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I bought this product in conjunction with the shampoo in the same range in an effort to find that one (possibly mythical) combination that does everything: moisturising, volumising, defrizzing, detangling and heat protection. My housemate had been using a different Herbal Essences product and it had reminded me how much I liked the scents of them so I thought I'd give this one a try
The blurb from the manufacturers:
with Passion flower and Pearl extracts
See your hair defy gravity with my light weight formula with Passion flower & pearl extracts. Get a lift in all the right places whilst keeping your hair delightfully luscious! Defy gravity and stay uplifted for fine/normal hair"
I was interested to see whether the lightweight formula really would make any difference as I've always found that using conditioners flattens my hair. Unfortunately, not using conditioner leaves my hair quite dry and frizzy so it's a tricky balance to strike!
The bottle is opaque, orange and a really nice curved shape, designed to fit together with the shampoo bottle in the same range. It has a flat top so that you can stand it upside down so that the liquid inside is ready to be dispensed straight away. You push one side of the lid and the opposite side opens. The product is dispensed through a small hole so you have to squeeze to get any out. While this works well for the shampoo which is not as thick as the conditioner but for this bottle it is something of a design flaw as you have to squeeze it quite hard to get the product out even when the bottle is full. When it gets nearly empty it's almost impossible to get the last bit out without getting cramp from squeezing it so hard!
I've noticed that using more than a 10p sized amount of conditioner leads to my hair becoming lank through overconditioning. I have to say that I really like the smell of this product. Like most of the Herbal Essences shampoos this is really natural smelling and smells of exotic flowers and fruit (similar to peaches or nectarines). I really like how natural it smells, it's a lovely clean fragrance. It's a lovely creamy consistency that you only need a little of the product to cover all of your hair.
I was really pleased with the results of using the shampoo and conditioner together. There were no tangles and my hair felt clean and well moisturised. It made it very easy to style once it had dried and there was hardly any frizz. However, I really didn't see much improvement in the volume of my hair. It had a little more bounce but there really wasn't anything like the boost that the advertising blurb boasts.
I think this product's main plus is that it makes your hair manageable and easy to style whilst keeping it in good condition but I think the claims about volume boost are a bit far-fetched. Also, the design of the bottle is really not great as I think that when it starts to run out, I will struggle to get the last bits out of it. I would recommend this product to keep your hair in good condition through repeated styling but I didn't notice any extra volume.
I am always on the lookout for a shampoo that does everything: moisturising, volumising, defrizzing, detangling and heat protection. I've tried a lot of herbal essences products before and have always liked them so I had high hopes for this one. I'll try to cover as many aspects of the product can so that you can see if it will suit your needs.
The blurb from the manufacturers:
with Passion flower and Pearl extracts
See your hair defy gravity with my light weight formula with Passion flower & pearl extracts. Get a lift in all the right places whilst keeping your hair delightfully luscious! Defy gravity and stay uplifted for fine/normal hair"
The idea behind it is that the lightweight formula boosts the body of your hair but doesn't make it greasy or heavy. How it does this I'm not quite sure but I was willing to give it a try.
The bottle is orange and a really nice curved shape, designed to fit together with the conditioner bottle in the same range. It has a flat top so that you can stand it upside down so that the liquid inside is ready to be dispensed straight away. You push one side of the lid and the opposite side opens. The product is dispensed through a small hole so you have to squeeze to get any out. This works quite well for shampoo as it comes out quite easily.
You use it the way you would any other shampoo. I always do two applications as I quite often have a lot of product hair or have it backcombed (I'm in a theatre company so quite often have to have elaborate hairdos!) I have to say that I really like the smell of this product. Like most of the Herbal Essences shampoos this is really natural smelling and smells of exotic flowers and fruit (similar to peaches or nectarines). I really like how natural it smells, it's a lovely clean fragrance.
Before I put the conditioner that's also in this range on, I was really impressed with how clean and smooth my hair felt. There were no tangles and my hair felt clean but not stripped as it can feel with strong shampoos. My hair is naturally fine but there is a lot of it so I was impressed that my hair felt easy to run my fingers through but without feeling lank or over conditioned. It also left my scalp feeling really fresh.
After using the matching conditioner to this product, my hair remained really manageable even after towel drying which can leave it tangled or frizzy. I then left my hair to dry naturally. When it was dry it was still in great condition and easy to style. It had a little more bounce to it than usual but I didn't really notice much difference to the volume.
I think this product's main plus is that it makes your hair manageable and easy to style whilst keeping it in good condition but I think the claims about volume boost are a bit far-fetched. I would recommend this product to keep your hair in good condition through repeated styling but I didn't notice any extra volume.
I decided to buy an electric toothbrush a couple of months ago as my teeth are densely packed (my dentist's words, not mine) in my mouth making it quite difficult to clean them with manual brushing. She suggested using an electric toothbrush as the oscillation dislodges anything stuck between the teeth.
The toothbrush itself comes with a charging unit which plugs into the shaver socket that you find in a lot of bathrooms. Unfortunately we don't have one at home so I had to buy an adaptor to plug it into the mains.
It's really easy to set up and in fact I didn't even have to charge it before I used it. But when you do need to charge it, you just place it on the charging unit for around 12 hours and it should last for a weeks worth of brushing (2 minutes each morning and evening). It's pretty basic as toothbrushes go, you don't get any extras with it, just the toothbrush, charger and instructions in every language you could think of!
The toothbrush is really easy to use as well, you don't have to set anything on it. You just press the button on the handle and away you go! After 2 minutes the brush pulses 3 times to let you know that the 2 minutes is up.
It took me a while to get used to the sensation of an electric toothbrush as I had not used one before but now I love it. It's a lot more gentle than I thought it would be. I had worried that as I have sensitive gums and am prone to mouth ulcers, I would find it painful to use but this really is not the case. The brush head moves in a very quick circular motion My teeth felt so clean after I used it that it was like having had them cleaned by a dentist.
The brushhead is fairly small which I see a plus for two reasons; firstly, it makes it much easier to reach the back teeth and the inside of the front bottom teeth. Secondly, you only need a tiny amount of toothpaste to generate enough 'lather' to last the full two minutes.
I paid about £17 for this toothbrush as it was in a half price sale. I have to say it is a bargain at that price. I've noticed that some toothbrushes are priced in excess of £100 which seems quite ridiculous. I have to say, I probably wouldn't have bought this tootbrush at its full price at the time but I would say £17 is quite good value for money.
I've been on the hunt for quite a while for the perfect perfume for me. I am still searching but Ralph Lauren Romance is pretty close so I hope my review is useful to my fellow fragrance hunters.
I've found the easiest way to tell which perfumes are worth a spritz is to rule out the ones that have elements I dislike. Someone had suggested that I might like Ralph Lauren Romance so I had a look at the description of the fragrance:
"The women's fragrance that evokes the timeless essence of falling in love. Discover the sensual essence of velvety woods, extravagant florals and seductive musk"
Needlessly to say I disregarded the first sentence - how many times have you heard someone say "And that's when I could smell that I was in love"? But, ridiculous advertising blurbs aside, the rest of it sounded pretty good. The idea of a velvety wood certainly intrigued me.
It actually described it pretty well. It's quite a floral perfume which to me smells a little of violets and lilies - which is great as I love these scents. There is a soft musk to it and a woodiness which stops the scent from being to girlish and gives it a little more depth. I would describe it as a sophisticated fragrance that would be more suited to evening wear than day to day.
One of my bugbears is awkwardly shaped perfume bottles; if you've read my review of Next's scent Define, you'll note this is what puts me off the otherwise lovely Marc Jacobs fragrances. No such problem here. A small, squareish, classic perfume bottle which fits neatly into a handbag and a satisfying click to the lid that means it won't leak everywhere. Good work Ralph.
It is a very feminine fragrance but not as sickly sweet as some of its competitors. It has a timeless quality without being overpowering. It would be perfect to wear on a dinner date as it is an attractive fragrance without being so strong that it would put fellow diners off there food.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the scent has quite good staying power. This is good as it means a bottle lasts longer. I would say that the scent lasts for a good couple of hours before you need to reapply.
I got a lot of compliments on this perfume, even more than for other similarly priced scents I have tried. So, any chaps that might be looking for a Valentine's gift, I think this would put you firmly in the good books - the thing's even called Romance, how much more fitting can you get?!
It is towards the higher end of the perfume price range but I think that with this you really do get what you pay for. Not an everyday scent but if you are looking for something to wear on special occasions it's worth the £45 for 50ml EDT
Overall, I loved this feminine but sophisticated scent. It's complex enough to be a classic but uncommon enough to make you stand out from the crowd of Diors and Chanels
I am in a theatre company and have to style my hair in a lot of different ways for different characters. This can range from a backcombed crows nest to 1930s curls to an Edwardian up-do. So, trusty grips that aren't too noticeable are an absolute must.
The grips are available in blonde, brown or black and you get a pack of 30 for £1.49 on a strip of purple cardboard. They have a nice matte finish which is really hand as they don't catch the light when in your hair so they really don't show up at all. I've found that the blond ones have a thicker coating on them than the black ones which seems to make them grip even better.
You can easily open the grips with your fingers and slide them into the hair to hold it in place. Each end has a rounded tip to make it more comfortable on the head but be careful with them otherwise these will come off exposing the sharp end of the grip.
If you are only using them on a small section of hair you can re-use them a number of times. However, if you use them for thicker sections or to hold pin curls in place, it will bend the grip out of shape. Once they are bent apart it is impossible to get them back to their original shape.
I can wear these in my hair overnight without any discomfort which isn't always the case with cheaper grips. They are strong enough to hold a full head of pin curls in place overnight and can hold complex styles in place all day. For extra hold, you can cross two of them to secure the hair.
Overall, they are really effective at keeping your hair in place exactly as you want it and I think it's worth paying the little extra for these as they really are good.
I have always wanted (and frequently failed) to find my signature fragrance, the one perfume that is just 'me'. I have tried numerous lotions, potions, eaux de parfum and toilette to no avail. My boyfriend, on the other hand, always smells wonderful and when I asked what scent he wore (Issey Miyake perhaps? Maybe a Marc Jacobs?) he replied "Dunno. Just something I got from Next". When I got over my rage (how dare he smell so good with such little effort?!) I found out which aftershave he had and headed to Next to find the female version.
I was in luck. His fragrance - Definition - has a feminine counterpart - Define. Firstly, I love the name. I am the verb to his noun. The action rather than the object. Sure, it makes no sense, but what perfume name does? I'd much rather be Define than Daisy, Lola or Miss Dior who, frankly, sound more like a lineup of strippers (cowgirl, Latin temptress and French dominatrix respectively) than perfumes.
The next thing I noticed was the price. A neat little gift set of a 30ml Eau De Toillette and a 9ml Eau De Parfum will set you back the meagre sum of £8. I had to read it twice as I thought it must be more than that but my first glance was correct - only £8. The EDT is in a very plain, square-ish bottle with a narrower gold band between the shoulder of the bottle and the lid. The EDP is in a narrow tube like a lip gloss (the wand variety rather than the squeezy ones. I was pretty pleased by this as they are both small enough to be handbag sized and sturdy enough not to break easily. Overly elaborate perfume bottles annoy me as my skin tends to absorb fragrance like a sponge so I need to be able to carry it around with me to reapply. Decorating the top of the bottle with a whacking great load of plastic flower shapes guarantees that I won't be buying your product, however delightful it is (I'm looking at you Marc Jacobs).
So, really cheap and in sensible packaging? There must be a catch, right? I looked at the scent description - "Exotic flowers and warm musk" - perhaps this was perfumiers code for "Makes you sneeze and smells like a damp towel on a radiator". I took a sniff. I was incredibly pleasantly surprised. It does indeed smell like exotic flowers and the musk notes give it a slightly herbal, rosemary-ish edge that I really like. It's not sickly and not too heady. A proper grown up daytime fragrance that is just interesting enough to make it a decent nighttime fragrance too.
I bought the set and on getting it home was pleased to find that the EDP is a handy little rollerball so you can apply it directly to pulse points without enforcing your fragrance on everyone in a 5 metre radius. This also seems to make the scent last longer on my skin. The EDT is a lighter version of this that you can use fairly liberally, it doesn't last as long but it's good for just freshening up now and again.
I would thoroughly recommend this perfume to anyone as it will suit most people I think. The gift set would be great for birthdays although you may want to leave a note with it to explain that it's a lot nice than your average cheap perfume set!
ATTENTION ALL ACTORS! This is the stuff to use if you have to have a ridiculous gravity defying hairstyle that stays in place for the duration of a show!
~Why I chose it~
So, as something of an explanation as to what led me to try this product, here goes:
I am part of a theatre company that specialises in murder mystery evenings. These last for about 3-4 hours and there is little time to reapply makeup and hair products. The character I was playing had to have vertical Jedward style hair (they like making me look as ridiculous as possible). My hair is in a bob that comes to my jawline so it is fairly long to spike up meaning that I needed some serious hairspray to keep it in place.
~Design and use~
I saw this on the shelf and having used the Got2b Glued Gel before knew that these products promised long lasting hold. The bright yellow can and klaxon-style nozzle made it stand out from all other products on the shelves. The can holds 300 ml and costs about £4 making it pretty good value for money in my estimation.
The weird looking nozzle turned out not to just be a design feature to make it stand out in the crowd, it actually serves a purpose. The blast of the hairspray is concentrated in a smaller area meaning you can be more precise with your styling. It also means that you are less likely to suffocate everyone else in the room with the fumes from the hairspray!
Although I must say that the smell of the hairspray wasn't overpowering as it can be with many of these products particularly if you use them in large volumes.
After a thorough application at close range, my hair was solid. I mean, really solid. It did not move when I moved my head and was sticking straight up as though pulled upwards by an invisible string. It really was very impressive.
I did notice a few white flakes coming off my hair but fortunately I had to have my hair sprayed white over the top of the hairspray.
The best thing about this product is that it really lasts. My hair stayed in place from around 6.30pm to when I washed it when I arrived home around midnight.
It even withstood being squashed by a full body suit that covered my whole head quite tightly (again, probably best not to ask why I had to wear this).
Don't brush/comb your hair if you've used a lot of this product! It really won't budge it and is likely to break your hair rather than remove it.
I had to wash my hair to get rid of it. I had to use 2 applications of shampoo and conditioner to get my hair back to normal and couldn't notice any lasting damage from having used the product.
I can highly recommend this product for use on extreme styles. It really does hold in place all night and the amount that you need to use per application makes this good value for money. It's perfect for anyone doing shows or those who have mohawks or similar styles that require strong hold.
Samsung Tocco Lite
Before I begin, I'd just like to point out that I am by no means an expert on anything technological so if you are looking for an in-depth technical lowdown on this phone, this review may not be helpful. This is aimed at people like me who don't really understand all the jargon but just want to know what it does well/badly.
I've had this phone for about a year now and got it as it was available on a cheap contract and I was assured it was easy to use for what I wanted it for - mostly texting, occasional picture taking.
~~ How it Looks ~~
It's pretty aesthetically pleasing and I like the touch screen element of it. It has a large screen with three buttons on the bottom to start and end a call and to go back through the menu screen. The lock button and camera button are on one side and the charging port is on the other. Also there is an up/down button which I have only ever used by mistake (I warned you that my technological needs are simple).
~~Easy to Use~~
The menu is incredibly straightforward and all the features are easy to use. You can access any photos you've taken or music you have stored in the 'My Files' section. There are all the settings you would expect:
Phone book (with options for personalised ringtones and a photo to appear when that person calls)
Calendar (you can add appointments although the title for them has few characters), Timer (good for my boiled eggs in the morning)
Alarms (nice and loud, works if phone is off and stopped by a slider meaning that you actually have to wake up to turn it off!)
Call logs (it will keep reminding you of a missed call until you look at the call log, which gets a bit annoying after a while)
As I said, I wanted this phone mainly for texting and the touch screen makes this pretty easy. I use the keypad setting which is laid out as it would be on an old mobile with the numbers 1-9 (and 0) representing 3 or 4 letters each. You can also turn the phone on its side to use a QWERTY keyboard which can be a bit fiddly. There is an option to write the letters on the full screen but this seems quite time consuming. The predictive text works well and you can add words. However, my predictive text seems to have gone a bit awry - it wants to put an apostrophe in 'want' and seems to favour 'ood' and 'ame' over 'one' and 'and'! I'm not sure if there is a way to clean up the dictionary.
The camera is 3.2 megapixels and is fine for taking pictures in good light. There is no flash so it is not great for pictures at night and you have to keep the phone very still when taking any photos and for a second after otherwise it blurs. So if you're look for a phone that can take good pictures, this probably isn't great for you.
Straightforward and pleasant to use
Good for texting
Can be personalised with individual ringtones and pictures
Can send and receive picture messages (if a little slowly)
Runs out of space quickly (I keep having to delete texts and pictures)
Camera isn't great
Internet connection is slow
Overall, I like this phone. It certainly isn't the best around but if you are looking for an easy to use phone that will last, this one seems pretty good value for money. Also, it has survived being dropped several times! It's straightforward, reliable and looks pretty good too.
As a big fan of Steve Coogan's work in general and Alan Partridge in particular, I had very high expectations for this book and I'm delighted to say it did not disappoint. I was intrigued as to how an autobiography by a fictional character would work. It could easily have been a hasty rehashing of old scripts but with Armando Iannucci and Steve Coogan at the helm, I knew to expect better than that.
The book covers the life of Alan Partridge from birth - a delightfully cringe-worthy description that is more befitting the Second Coming than the entrance into the world of a mediocre talk show host - up until the present day. No stone is left unturned as Alan regales the reader with tales of his difficult schooldays, (not very) abusive parents, hospital radio shows, TV shows and the many rises and falls that have made him the incredible (even if he does say so himself) man he is today. The book references the real TV and radio shows in which Alan Partridge appeared The Day Today, Knowing Me Knowing You and I'm Alan Partridge. Not only that, but it cleverly fills in the blanks of Alan's career in between them and his feelings for all the characters that appeared in these shows.
The autobiography is written completely in character and is a joy to read because of this; it is perfectly accurate to how that character would see the world. Within minutes of starting the book I found myself laughing aloud (in public, which was a tad embarrassing) at lines like "My thoughts tumbled around my head like trainers in a washing machine". You cannot help but read this in Partridge's voice and Coogan uses this cleverly by frequently adding in asides in the form of footnotes, almost to the point of compulsion; every time he writes North Norfolk Digital it is followed by a footnote saying "North Norfolk's best music mix". The complete buffoonishness of the character is maintained throughout as he describes mundane acts as if they were astounding achievements.
Since I bought this book, I have looked forward to getting a few spare minutes to read it every day. I really cannot recommend it highly enough. Even if you only have a passing knowledge of Partridge, I am certain you will enjoy it and for die-hard fans, there is so much to enjoy here that I urge you to go out and buy it right now!
First things first: I had never used fake tan before. I was quite happy with my pasty English complexion and had no great desire to be in any way bronzed. Unfortunately, my friends who got married in October did not share my enthusiasm for paleness and I knew that if I didn't take some kind of action, I would look like a ghost in their wedding photos.
I was terrified of that slightly jaundiced look that I have seen so many people sporting after a bad self tan or ending up with a nuclear glow that I wouldn't be able to shake off all winter. I asked my colleagues at work if they knew of any products that would give a novice like me a subtle healthy look rather than a full-on tan. One of them suggested Johnson's Holiday Skin (JHS for ease of reference) saying that she used it daily. She had a fairly healthy looking complexion and like me wasn't particularly au fait with beauty regimes.
The idea of JHS is that you use it like a moisturiser after showering/bathing to build up a subtle, natural tan over a few weeks. This suited me as I am fairly rubbish at anything beauty-wise so a normal fake tan would leave me looking ridiculously streaky as a result of my poor application.
I followed the instructions to the letter - always a good idea if you are a dunce at all things girly - and applied it like moisturiser after showering. The first thing I was struck by was the smell. And not in a good way. It had a heavy, sickly sweet fragrance which was musky and smelt quite artificial. To me, it also smelt a little of ammonia, which is never pleasant.
I was pleased to find it was quite easy to apply as it went on smoothly just like a normal moisturiser. I managed to get a light even coverage from a fairly small amount so was quite pleased at the value for money in this sense.
A promising start but a couple of hours later I was not so happy; I could still smell it really strongly. The fragrance was not managing to mask the smell of the active ingredient which gives off that distinctive 'fake tan' smell. The only thing I can think to compare it to is a pungent hair dye type of smell. Ammonia-y and artificial with a layer of musky sickly sweetness trying to disguise it.
Jump forward to a few weeks usage (I was determined to see it through) and I was still about as pale as when I started. The only noticeable differences was some slightly more brownish patches on my ankles where it seemed to have coagulated. So rather than a subtle glow, I just looked a bit grubby as if I had forgotten to wash certain places - not really the effect I was going for.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this product as I saw no signs of even light tanning, found the smell very unpleasant and ended up generally blotchy. I think I'll stick with being pasty.
The Losers is an action film directed by Sylvain White based on the Vertigo comics of the same name. So, fact fans, here is the main cast:
Clay - Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who also played The Comedian in the recent Watchmen movie)
Roque - Idris Elba (best known for being Stringer Bell in The Wire)
Jensen - Chris Evans (not the talkative ginger one from British TV, the one who was in Fantastic Four and is set to play Captain America sometime soon)
Pooch - Columbus Short (from Stomp The Yard which was also directed by Sylvain White)
Cougar - Oscar Jaenada (not well known in Hollywood yet but has done a lot of work in his native Spain)
Aisha - Zoe Saldana (one of the blue things in Avatar and Uhura in Star Trek - the latter of which makes her pretty cool in my book)
Max - Jason Patric (him out of Lost Boys! But all grown up!)
I'm going to try my best to write about this film without giving too much away so please leave a comment if you think I've included anything too spoileriffic. Although, to be honest, this film is pretty predictable so you can see plot twists coming from a mile off. But, putting that aside for a moment, let me give you a basic rundown of what the film is about:
The 'Losers' of the title are a band of soldiers comprising a sombre knife expert (Roque), a wisecracking technological whizz (Jensen), a family man vehicles guy (Pooch), an enigmatic sniper (Cougar) and their rugged but dependable colonel (Clay). During a mission in the Bolivian jungle they are double-crossed by the sinister Max and are forced to go undercover to get back to America and to finally confront him. They are helped by the sultry Aisha who proves she is every bit as tough as the Losers but may not be quite who she seems. I can't really give away any more about the plot but it is your basic 'soldiers gone rogue' affair with plenty of gunfire, explosions and some sneaky double crossing.
As for the style of the film, it definitely feels like a comic book adaptation with slick fight scenes (with a conspicuous lack of blood - it's a 12A) and some nice visuals, such as the Losers walking Reservoir Dogs-style towards the camera. The shoot-outs have a videogame feel to them with the action slowing down and the camera going close in on the victim. The setup of this film makes it rip for a videogame adaptation and the strong characters could easily translate to this format.
The cast is very strong and put their characters across very well considering the film gives away little about their background. Chris Evans shows real comedic flair as fast-talking Jensen and has some great lines and a very funny scene involving mimed guns and an acapella version of 'Don't Stop Believin'. Jeffrey Dean Morgan elicits sympathy as their colonel of this ailing troupe and doesn't overplay the macho posturing which many actors in this sort of role usually fall into. Despite having very few lines (seriously, he's practically mute) Oscar Jaenada really embodies his role and adds some nice comic touches of his own. Idris Elba nails the hardened soldier character and Zoe Saldana is good as a foxy femme fatale. The only letdown in the cast is Jason Patric as baddie Max - he really underplays the character, aiming for cold and uncaring but landing at nonchalant and apathetic. This is a real shame as he is given some excellent lines and in a more imposing actor's hands this could have been a very sinister part.
I went to see this at the cinema with 2 big fans of comic books and a friend who isn't really into comics or big action flicks and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. The banter between the cast is more than enough to keep non action fans entertained and the big face-off towards the end of the movie is definitely enjoyable for those of us that enjoy action movies. The ending of the film definitely left me wanting more and I'd really like to see a sequel of this thoroughly enjoyable movie.
Green Wing is a surreal British comedy series which originally aired in 2004 on Channel 4. It was created by the same team of eight writers that created Smack The Pony and the first series follows Dr Caroline Todd as she begins her new job at East Hampton Hospital.
Green Wing lies somewhere in between being a sketch show and a sitcom; it does have an overarching plot and character development but this is interspersed with bizarre comic set pieces. It is similar in style to programmes like Smack The Pony, Spaced and No Angels. The show moves from one sketch to another in surreal ways, speeding up or slowing down the action rather than progressing as a scene would in real life.
I found Green Wing very funny indeed but the weird humour many not be to everyone's tastes. The humour is certainly adult in places as many of the laughs come from characters engaging in ridiculously inappropriate behaviour in their offices. There are also a multitude of sight gags, practical jokes, joyously juvenile pratfalls as well as some very witty and some downright outrageous dialogue. One of my favourite things about this programme is that it does not rely on catchphrases to get easy laughs and the repeated jokes it does do are variations on a theme rather than the same joke repeated over and over again.
The comedy acting in this show is exemplary and it is rare to find so many high quality comedy actors in one show. Moreover, these actors actually seem to have been trusted to let the comedy come out of their characterisation rather than relying on a gag-heavy script. Tamsin Greig is wonderful as Dr Todd and you cannot help but root for her as she traverses the bizarre landscape of this hospital of weirdos. Michelle Gomez is absolutely fearless in her portrayal of the near-sociopathic HR boss Sue White and delivers some of the most shocking and blisteringly funny scenes of the show. Stephen Mangan is deliciously sleazy as wannabe playboy Guy Secretan and his performance is countered perfectly by Julian Rhind Tutt as the charming Mac McCartney. Mark Heap is at his neurotic best as the deeply disturbed (and somewhat sexually deviant) Dr Statham and plays the comic fool perfectly. Not only does this show boast an excellent main cast, but the secondary characters are also brilliantly characterised and more than hold their own in the programme. I really cannot praise the performances in this enough. Green Wing has reminded me of why I want to be a comedy actress: when it works, there is nothing more satisfying than a good comedy performance.
I don't really want to say too much about any of the scenes in this show which made me laugh out loud as I want you to have the same joyous experience as I did upon first watching this magnificent comedy. All I can say is: Watch it now!
I'm a big fan of tortilla chips and could quite easily work my way through a big bag of Doritos whilst watching a film or hanging out with friends. However, the large bags of Doritos retail at around £1.40 which seems pretty expensive to me. My favourite flavour is the Lightly Salted so about a year ago I decided to find an alternative to feed my expensive Doritos habit.
I spotted the Sainsbury's Basics range of torilla chips and was pleased to find that they were lightly salted. I was even more pleased to find that the packs only cost 25p for 100 grams! This works out to less than half the cost of Doritos.
The Basics tortillas are in the same orange and white packaging as the rest of the range with handwriting-style text and a simplistic drawing of tortilla chips rather than a photograph as the higher priced items tend to have. Rather than being in a foil bag, these tortillas are in a plastic bag but I haven't noticed an adverse effects from this on the product.
The packaging bears all the usual nutritional and storage information and the front carries the Sainsbury's traffic light pie wheel. For those not familiar with this, it is a circle broken up into sections displaying things like the calorific, salt and sugar content of the product. It is colour-coded into green for low, amber for medium and red for high. The wheel for this product is as follows:
Calories: 245 RED
Fat: 12.0g RED
Saturated Fat: 1.4g AMBER
Salt: 0.63g RED
Total sugars: 2.0g GREEN
The high presence of red basically means that this product is not very healthy due to its high fat and salt content so its probably best to only indulge occasionally rather than eating them all the time. It's a pretty handy diagram as it can often be difficult to work out whether something's salt or fat content is high or low in comparison to the amount in the pack.
As for the taste of these tortillas, I really like them even though they are quite salty. I really like salty snacks but I can see that these are not to everyone's taste as they are saltier than Doritos. However, even if you don't like them to eat on their own, they go well with dips such as hummus or guacamole. They are also good as nachos with chilli and cheese.
Overall, the cheap price of these tortilla chips make them excellent for parties or as part of a meal with chilli.
I decided to watch Mad Men after a number of friends recommended it to me. I had seen clips of it before and thought its period setting (early 60s New York) and subject (the upper end of the advertising agency) looked really interesting. I usually begin my reviews of TV shows and films with the disclaimer that I may unintentionally give away spoilers; in the case of Mad Men, I have only watched the first episode so hopefully I won't give anything away! I wanted to do a review of the show at this point because I get the feeling that the characters are going to change a lot over the 3 seasons already filmed and I'd like to do another review (or add to this one later) to compare. It also gives me a chance to write without having to restrict myself to minimal details - I often forget what has happened at the very beginning of a series and don't want to spoil it for anyone who wants to watch it!
Mad Men is an American drama set in a New York advertising agency in the early 1960s. The period setting sets this apart from other American dramas stylistically and it really feels authentic. Everybody smokes everywhere - this is one of the most striking things about the show as smoking is so rarely shown on TV shows except to denote a 'bad guy'. But the series is set at a time when smoking was not only socially acceptable but actively encouraged. Indeed, the first episode sees the eponymous Mad Men (a term coined by the advertising executives of Madison Avenue to describe themselves) faced with a dilemma as research highlighting the link between smoking and lung cancer means that they can no longer get away with slogans that state that smoking is good for you.
Another aspect of the show that takes some getting used to is the way that the women in it behave in relation to men. This was an era before feminism really took hold - especially in this very male dominated workplace - and at first it is quite shocking to see how the secretaries of Sterling Cooper not only tolerate the way their colleagues objectify them but encourage it and use it to their advantage. One of the first things that Joan - an experienced secretary at Sterling Cooper - does is to impart some womanly advice to new secretary Peggy; this consists of telling her to show a little more leg and arranging an appointment with a doctor to get her on contraceptive pills! Although the women have to put up with a lot of flak from their chauvinist colleagues, they are not portrayed simply as victims or as robots. The first episode hints at the depth of each character rather than falling into easy stereotypes and shows that although women have to put up with a lot, the men are also struggling.
Some of the scenes are set in Sterling Cooper's meetings with clients and these scenes are really fun as the creative team headed by Don Draper come up with ingenious advertising slogans that mirror real ad campaigns of the time. Watching Draper come up with an inspired catchphrase for a tobacco company struggling in the face of damning scientific research is captivating to watch. The scenes also show the trickery and double-crossing perpetrated by the Mad Men to gain an edge over not only their rivals but also their colleagues. Although this is set in the 60s it is not much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that this kind of thing still goes on today. The 'boys nights out' to strip clubs and cocktail bars also seem like the kind of thing that may still go on today.
Having only watched the first episode, I can't give much more than first impressions but a few really stand out as characters that are going to be interesting over coming episodes.
Don Draper (Jon Hamm)
The first episode begins with Don Draper sitting alone in a smoky cocktail bar in New York. This immediately sets the tone of the show and marks Don as a major character. He is very dedicated to his work and is always looking for that next slogan which is going to make his clients rich. We also learn that he is very popular with the ladies and seems more respectful towards them than some of his colleagues. He is a man that knows how to 'play the game' and is well-respected as one of the best ad men in the business because of his great ideas as well as his charisma. He reminds me of a detective from a hard-boiled crime novel and has that same noir-ish edge to him which I find really interesting to watch. There are hints in this episode that there is much more to him than meets the eye, particularly at the end of the episode.
Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks)
Head of the typing pool and with an hourglass figure to rival Marilyn Monroe, Joan is smart, self-assured and knows how to get what she wants. As she takes the new girl on a whirlwind tour of the office, we find out that Joan knows exactly how to treat everyone in the office and as she points out one of her past mistakes (some kind of liaison with one of the junior executives) you get the feeling that there is something more beneath Joan's highly-polished exterior. Hendricks looks absolutely stunning with her flame-red hair and figure hugging outfits and I'm really looking forward to finding out more about her character.
Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss)
Peggy comes across as an innocent and somewhat naïve girl who is desperate to do well in her new job as secretary. She obviously has not become hardened as Joan has and will do anything to fit in - she goes along to the doctors to be prescribed the contraceptive pill but assure him that she is 'not that kind of girl'. She is played really well by Moss who manages to make a character that could be annoyingly naïve sympathetic. There is something about Peggy which hints that there is more to her than the cliché of the sweet girl who gets corrupted in the big city.
Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser)
A young, ambitious executive, Pete seems like the type of guy who will step on anyone to get where he wants to be and demonstrates this in more than one scene in this episode. He tries to get the upper hand but is outclassed by Draper in one instance and shot down by a woman in another. There is a menace to this character, which makes him really watchable and I can't wait to see what devious trick he pulls next.
After only one episode, I am really hooked! The writing is smart and sophisticated and the characters are well rounded. The period setting is a visual treat with beautiful outfits for the female characters and classic suits for the men. The show manages to tackle the social issues of the 60s without directly drawing attention to them. The dialogue is as snappy as you would expect and there are some really thrilling scenes as well as slow-burning character development.
Glee is an American comedy-drama following the story of a glee club in a typical US high school. For those of you who don't know (I didn't before I started watching it!) a glee club is an acapella choir. These are apparently a fixture of most American high schools and as a result of this show are apparently starting to spring up in the UK. According to the show, Glee kids are at the bottom of the social pile and as such get picked on by the jocks and cheerleaders.
This show follows the glee club as it is taken over by enthusiastic teacher Will Schuester who is determined to find new talent in William McKinley High School to fulfil the dreams he never could when he was in his high school glee club. He forms a choir from a disparate bunch covering the spectrum of high school stereotypes. To give you an idea here are a few of the characters:
Rachel: By far the most enthusiastic member of the club, Rachel is determined to become a star and her dedication to her dream verges on the insane. Her can-do attitude keeps the club going in the face of adversity and many slushies to the face (this will make sense when you watch it!). Lea Michele gives some truly outstanding vocal performances as show-tune loving Rachel - Don't Rain On My Parade is particularly good.
Finn: The somewhat dumb but lovable quarterback with raw natural talent who finally finds the acceptance he is looking for in glee club. Corey Monteith plays the role of 'smalltown football star with big dreams' perfectly and you cannot help but feel for him as things do not go his way.
Kurt: The camp soprano who struggles with his sexuality, Kurt is responsible for some of the best moments of the show. With the acting talent to match his wonderful voice, Chris Colfer gaves a sensitive performance as Kurt which is not only hilarious but can also be heartbreaking at times. It is clear to see why the casting team created the role of Kurt after Chris auditioned for another role.
Like most mainstream American shows, Glee covers the race/sexuality/disability/religion spectrum and does get a bit clichéd and stereotypical at times but this is forgivable given the hyper-real feel of the show. This show is the antithesis of grittily realistic dramas, with it's big song and dance numbers, colour saturation and larger-than-life characters. There are some wonderful numbers from a cast that can actually sing!
As well as the musical segments, there are some very funny and smart storylines and some brilliant performances. Jane Birch is phenomenal as Sue Sylvester, arch-enemy of the Glee Club and captain of the school's much-feted Cheerleading team. She has some brilliant put-downs and delivers these with excellent comic timing. Jessalyn Gilsig is also excellent as Will's amoral wife Terri who will go to any lengths to ensure her marriage is safe. But for me, the best character is Emma, the neurotic school counsellor played perfectly by Jayma Mays.
This is an incredibly enjoyable and funny show with some superb performances and a smart script. I really would encourage everyone to watch this and I'm very glad that it has been commissioned for another series later this year.