Back we come to the Very Late Review, the truly spectacular pooling-of-knowledge/opinion venture which is one of this blog’s proudest achievements. As you will know if you’ve been reading for a bit, the idea is that I nominate things I haven’t experienced/am in two minds about etc and ask you, the readers, to rate them out of 10 and write a brief review. It’s edited by the estimable Megan McLeod who I’ve only ever met twice but now regard as a colleague (an unpaid one).
So here we go with the most recent topics, nominated a while ago. One of them was Michael McIntyre, but I’ve decided not to include the McIntyre comments because sometimes in interviews people quote the Very Late Review as if they were MY opinions, and I can imagine things getting unpleasant with Michael being a colleague of mine essentially. I’ll hold the reviews of MM back for a less fraught time.
Over to Megan, and at the end you’ll find a list of the subjects up for your review this time round. As always, you can be as brief or as verbose as you like, and remember to include a score out of 10. Here are the results from our most recent investigations…
The Big Bang Theory (TV series)
As of January’s end, Mr Watson had not seen this, but said everyone in the British TV industry name-dropped it. Curious. It’s also one of the top-rated comedy in Canada right now (though not even in the top 10 in the US). I like nerds, but I find this show is best enjoyed in small doses; a few of you seem to agree that the humour is quite repetitive and/or clichéd, but the fans, some super duper huge ones, some reluctantly won over, definitely dominated in our little compiliation here. (And I can’t hate this show entirely, because they have name-dropped a friend of mine, a comic book writer, more than once, apparently.)
Memorable quotes: ‘Being at a nerdy university means I am surrounded by people who would get all the complex maths/physics/star trek references yet agree that it’s not funny. Maybe it’s too American.’ (Kathryn); ‘The character Sheldon is pretty much the main reason everyone should watch this show as almost every second joke is either about or said by him.’ (Ally); ‘As the girl who’s hung out with more than her fair share of nerds this show has a place in my heart, and I love it more with each science joke. (Alice); I watched a great video on youtube when they remove the laugh track and it becomes quite haunting.’ (One of them is here and is rather brilliant) (Clembear); ‘The Big Bang Theory started at a pretty high level, and several series in (three, four?) still manages to reach that level surprisingly often. Part of my enjoyment may be because I share some of Sheldon’s disdain for the idiocy of people.’ (Andrew); ‘It’s easier to watch but much less shit than How I Met Your Mother, E4′s similar offering. I like Sheldon, he reminds me of some of the kids I teach. ’ (Laura-B) (How dare you! HIMYM is the only sitcom for which I’m willing to deal with a laugh track!)
Average score: 7/10
Diving score: 7/10
Full marks: 2 out of 24 ratings
Nul points: None
The Trip (TV series/film)
I hoped and prayed that my boss would be able to get the edited-down-to-film-length version of this to play at the cinema, but no dice. In the interest of non-impartiality, I loved this, as did my friend Richard, and we rewatched A Cock and Bull Story in preparation because the Coogan/Brydon dynamic is so fantastic. And because we love going out for big, multiple course meals when money allows. (And as my trave
ANYway, comments from y’all were vaguely Marmite-y (more on that later) in that a few can’t stand Rob Brydon and/or Steve Coogan (!!!), or thought the show was slow/off/self-indulgent. The wise Corry said it wouldn’t have been commissioned if these two hadn’t been involved (I’m sure Winterbottom had something to do with it too), which is probably true, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. That having been said, several people loooooooved this (like I did) and it has been hailed by some as the best comedy so far this year.
Memorable quotes: ‘It should really be awful because it basically just boils down to two middle-aged man bantering and doing impressions of people that no-one under the age of 20 has hear of, but Coogan and Brydon somehow manage to take that and make it bloody hilarious.’ (Tom Beasley); ‘Never seen it, as I believe it contains both Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, both of whom make me want to spew.’ (Glamlovinkitty); ‘Watched it, found it more awkward than funny, but that’s probably because I find Rob Brydon a bit grating. He’s good in acting roles, but his endless array of characters drives me a bit crazy. So adding Steve Coogan into that mixture didn’t help me any.’ (h2osarah); ‘I can’t really say it was hilariously funny or put my finger on quite why I found it enjoyable and highly watchable.’ (DeborahF); ‘Didn’t really drag me in enough to bother with the remainder, but one of the characters was called Misha which was nice/confusing.’ (Misha); ‘I set the line ‘To bed, gentlemen! We leave at 8.30 for 9′ as my phone’s welcome message earlier this year, and it has made dropping my phone and having to reset the battery a rather enjoyable scenario. ’ (Aislinn); ‘I did not really get this.’ (Helen)
Average score: 7/10
Diving score: 7/10
Full marks: 2 out of 18 ratings
Nul points: 0 out of 18
Meet the Little Fockers (series of increasingly poorly reviewed films)
This one was a head-scratcher, in that only one person gave the series a positive review, yet there was no 0/10 marks; most were in the 3-5/10 range. But yeah, general consensus is that these films are not brilliant, are immature, might offer the occasional laugh, but that the first (or second film) did not inspire you to bother to see the third. Frankly, the trailers for Little Fockers made me want to disassociate myself from the cinema industry altogether (and I am the person for whom disaster epic 2012 was one of the best films of 2009).
‘The only reason I saw the last is someone else offered to pay so I wouldn’t get angry about wasting my money, and I still left the theater feeling ripped off.’ (Lisa D); ‘You don’t watch a film with “fockers” in the title because you want a mature, emotional epic. You watch it for a laugh and you will definitely laugh at these films…They are by no means excellent films, but if you want to see a man called Gaylord brawl with an ex-CIA man at a children’s party, you certainly won’t get it anywhere else!’ (Tom Beasley); ‘I find it ludicrous that Ben Stiller has effectively played the exact same character in every single film he has ever been in.’ (Beth); ‘I find it very frustrating that nobody has noticed that Robert De Niro can’t do comedy, at all.’ (Andrew) (thank goodness someone agrees with me); ‘Thought Meet the Parents was OK, thought Meet the Fockers was poor. Based on that trajectory I have no intention of seeing Little Fockers. Remember the days when Robert De Niro was a heavyweight actor?’ (Sam)
Average score: 3.5/10
Diving score: 3.5/10
Full marks: 0 out of 19 ratings
Nul points: 0 out of 19
Marmite (yeasty spread)
As expected, opinions on this were just like the adverts like to announce; some people love it, and those who don’t largely hate it, and hate it a lot. HOWEVER, a number of Watsonians claimed to be relatively indifferent about the stuff, and to despise their ‘Love It or Hate It’ campaign, so it just proves that advertising slogans are not actually true. Shocking stuff.
(Advice/Information Request #1: Marmite is definitely something that this foreigner doesn’t fully understand, so this is where I want to ask for your help: I was first exposed to it when I was about 15, because a friend’s parents (who were Welsh) always had some in the pantry and my friend insisted that a bunch of us smell the stuff. Blurgh. The memory is not good. But my high school boyfriend/now best friend has said that, if spread in a microscopically thin layer (he suggested some kind of laser-based applier), it helped perk up a cheese sandwich immeasurably. But, many, many years on, I still haven’t tried it. For the (numerous) among you who think it’s fabulous? Were I to invest in a wee jar, how should I endeavour to eat it first for maximum enjoyment?)
Memorable quotes: ‘MARMITE is a magnificent two-fingered salute to the poseurs who dismiss British food as ‘brown’. “Behold!”, it seems to say, “I am so brown I’m almost black. Half the nation cannot aide me but still I’m a cultural icon”. I find such self-assurance very attractive.’ (David B); ‘Marmite is the best food in the world. Fact. On cold dark mornings I wake up and I’m cheered by the fact that I can go and eat some marmite on toast.’ (Hannahq); ‘The Devil’s creation – absolutely disgusting. (DeborahF); I like it so much the the Marmite flavoured breadsticks I bought had to be dipped into Marmite to make them Marmity enough.’ (Natalie-Helen); ‘Wrong all wrong.’ (Jen); ‘I’ve never understood why anyone would eat this, even the smell of it is barf-tastic.’ (Glamlovinkitty); ‘Most of the time I cannot stand it. But when I’ve got a hangover I would happily kill for a slice of marmite on toast.’ (Chris H) (I feel the same about poutine); ‘I think it’s very hypocritical for a murky brown spread to go about acting like everything is black or white.’ (Helen) (This might be my favourite comment of VLR10)
Average score: 5.5/10
Diving score: 5.5/10
Full marks: 2 out of 19 ratings
Nul points: 5 (!!) out of 19
Dublin (the city, to which Mr Watson has never been)
Most of my knowledge of Dublin comes from The Commitments (the film) and other Roddy Doyle stories (in book form) which, I suspect, might be a bit dated now. Reviews from the masses (well, the dozen or so who commented) are almost universally very positive (see Sam’s comment below, though). So, essentially, everyone should go.
(Advice/Information Request #2: How expensive is it really? Some friends found it the most spendy place in Europe when they were there a while back, but I have been meaning to get to Ireland for many, many years and I reckon I should go while the Canadian dollar is actually worth something.)
Memorable quotes: ‘Go to the Winding Stair Bookshop – you’ll love it.’ (Chris H); ‘Every time I’ve visited the fair city my impression of it has gotten worse, which is a real shame. First went about 10 or so years ago and had a really fantastic time and couldn’t rate it highly enough…Subsequent visits have seen the city get dirtier, everything get more expensive, and so many homeless people begging on the street.’ (Sam); ‘I think that Temple Bar (the bit with all the pubs, little artsy shops etc) is the nicest bit of Dublin City. We have a Spire that tourists generally like to look at, lots of nice theatre places, a zoo and the only bridge in the world that is wider than it is long.’ (lisan66, a Dubliner); ‘It is gorgeous, the people are as brilliant as the cliche says they should be but it is an expensive place to be (unless someone else is paying).’ (Corry)
Average score: 8/10
Diving score: 8.5/10
Full marks: 1 out of 10 ratings
Nul points: 0 out of 10
Meditation (activity & something people seem to recommend that Mr Watson and other tense people try)
A few of you find this highly helpful in your lives, but even more of you find it nearly impossible and/or very frustrating to try to clear your head in order to get your ommmmm on. A couple stated outright that medication was preferable for helping with sleep/stress/etc. Possibly talking out my arse (as usual) here, but I think any activity (be it ‘pure’ meditation, whatever that is, rock-climbing, yoga, knitting, etc.) that requires enough focus to NOT think about life’s other problems is beneficial. My commute to work (by bike) does me fine. (It’s hard to worry about the work printer not networking correctly when you’re playing cat-and-mouse with a bus.)
Memorable quotes: ‘I have problems with anxiety, so I have been told that I should meditate. I don’t really get the point though, because I just sit there thinking about everything and getting stressed. Or I get bored. And once I fell asleep, which I suppose is an okay kind of outcome.’ (Lydia); ‘I have tried this a few times and have always, without fail, got the giggles.’ (Alex); ‘Most of the time it’s just boring, I do find that listening to a guided meditation thing before going to bed helps me sleep as it stops me from focusing on eveything that happened during the day.’ (Ally); ‘I instinctively find people who (unprompted) proclaim that they meditate to be extremely annoying.’ (Chris H); ‘I need to be knocked out much quicker.’ (Tracey)
Average score: 5.5/10
Diving score: 5.5/10
Full marks: 0 out of 15 ratings
Nul points: 1 out of 15
Et voilà! Another Very Late Review. Now back to Mr Watson, with a thank you to everyone for participating/reading this far!
Thank you Megan. For review in the 11th episode:
HAWAII (destination, never been)
DAN IN REAL LIFE or THE SWITCH or HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU (bunch of American films I’m not that likely to see)
BEING HUMAN (cult comedy, so far has passed me by)
PRINCE WILLIAM AND KATE MIDDLETON (people; seems wrong not to talk about them when so many other people are)
SUSHI (food, I’m trying to adjust to it)
SUDOKU (enduringly popular hobby which I have never got into)
THE MOON (the traditional ‘one for people who don’t know about any of the others’)
Off you go! Thank you!