All posts by ntbadmin

24(1) 2:00PM – 12:00AM


Yet more absurd twists and turns. Agents do stupid things, leaving doors open, not looking behind them. But most annoying being a sniper played by an actor who had obviously never held a rifle before. It ends, then end and ends. The plot has more endings that ‘Return of the King’.

Palmer looks more like a goody two-shoes one dimensional character that just becomes more annoying. His wife is the better character, actress Penny Johnson Jerald played Kasidy Yates in Star Trek DS9.
She is great as the Machiavellian wife that pushes her husband. The Palmer couple could have been based on the Bill & Hillary Clinton, but even more accurately Frank and Claire Underwood from ‘House of Cards’.

Despite the plot holes and absurdities of the plot, it’s still a good and tense ride for the 24 hours.


24(1): 3:00AM – 2:00PM



Jack follows a lead from Walsh’s card. At CTU, Nina Myers and Jamey Farrell (Karina Arroyave) decide to go against George Mason’s (Xander Berkeley) orders and help Jack. Kim is handed off to Gaines’ men while Janet is taken to the hospital.

Palmer meets with reporter Maureen Kingsley (Devika Parikh), who explains that she has two separate sources accusing his son Keith Palmer (Vicellous Reon Shannon) of murdering his sister Nicole’s (Megalyn Echikunwoke) rapist. Kim and Rick (Daniel Bess) are taken to Ira Gaines’ compound on the outskirts of the city. Jack finds an unidentified body connected to Gaines in the trunk of a car. Alan and Teri wait in the hospital as Janet undergoes surgery.

Jack and Teri are briefly reunited at the hospital, where Jack warns the doctors not to let anyone near Janet. Gaines contacts Jack and tells him that he has kidnapped Kim. Jack must follow Gaines’ orders if he wants to ever see his daughter again. Teri leaves the hospital with Alan to continue searching for Kim. Palmer discovers that his entire family has been keeping secrets from him, but he needs them if he is to come clean before Kingsley breaks the story herself. After Jamey helps identify the body from the car, Nina calls Teri to tell her that the cadaver is the real Alan York.

Acting on Gaines’ orders, Jack returns to CTU to interfere with the decryption of the key card. He is then ordered to shoot Nina, but manages to do so without actually harming her. Teri escapes from Alan’s impostor, but is captured by more of Gaines’ men.

Nina Myers and Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) realize that Jamey is the mole inside CTU and is communicating with Gaines. Using instructions and equipment from Gaines, Jack gets in to see Palmer’s appearance at the San Clarita power plant. Jack soon realizes that the terrorists plan to frame him for the assassination.

Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson Jerald) tries to convince Maureen Kingsley not to run her story. Jack is taken into custody while Kim and Teri encounter more problems at Gaines’ compound. Nina and Tony pressure Jamey for information about the assassination plot. After leaving and returning to the room where Jamey is held they find Jamey with her wrist slashed in an apparent suicide attempt.

Teri acquires a cell phone and calls Jack, giving him clues to her whereabouts. An Acting Director, Alberta Green (Tamara Tunie), arrives at CTU and declares Jack a fugitive. Jack follows a lead from Jamey’s computer to a Los Angeles businessman named Ted Cofell (Currie Graham).

Jack poses as the driver of Cofell’s limo and soon interrogates the businessman on his family’s whereabouts. Initially Jack has no success but after Jack breaks Cofell’s wrist, Cofell curses him in Serbian, which Jack recognizes as a link to the day’s events. Cofell suffers a heart attack and dies. Jack then runs into Cofell’s contact, Kevin Carroll – the man he knew at the hospital as Alan York – and interrogates him. Carroll agrees to take Jack to where Teri and Kim are held in exchange for his life. Nina and Tony grow more concerned about the possibility of another mole inside CTU. Andre Drazen (Zeljko Ivanek), Gaines’ superior, orders the deaths of Kim and Teri.

Jack makes it into Gaines’ camp and enlists Rick’s help to secure for a vehicle in which to escape. Gaines quickly finds out when Carroll is found unconscious and chaos ensues. Jack manages to escape the compound with his family and Rick until the tire of their van is shot out. Continuing their escape on foot, Teri and Kim make their way to the rendezvous point while Jack and Rick hold off Gaines and his men. Rick is wounded but manages to escape with Jack. When Palmer tries to talk to Dr. George Ferragamo, his son’s therapist, he soon discovers that there are men inside his own campaign that are willing to commit murder in order to protect him.

Jack has a final confrontation with Gaines who, fearing retribution from the Drazens, chooses death over helping Jack. Jack, Teri and Kim are airlifted back to CTU. Rick manages to escape from the compound, fearing that he would be jailed for his involvement with Gaines if he turned himself in. Palmer plans to talk to the DA about Dr. Ferragamo’s murder, but Carl Webb (Zach Grenier) tries to stop him. At CTU, Nina discovers that a second assassin has arrived in Los Angeles, which means that Palmer’s life is still in danger.

Kevin Carroll, having escaped the compound with a small group is killed by Alexis Drazen (Misha Collins), who is mopping up the remnants of the first team of mercenaries. Jack returns to CTU, but is not authorized to see his family. Tony refuses to tell Alberta Green and Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze) what he knows about Jack’s activities. Nina escorts Kim and Teri to a hospital, but comes across evidence that they may still be targets. Palmer discovers a link between himself and Bauer, and decides to take matters into his own hands — demanding to see Jack personally to confront him about the day’s events.

Bauer is great is these episodes, combining the skills of a super-spy and showing some vulnerability when holed up in the construction office. The problem is Palmer, he is becoming less realistic as an ambitious  politician. Now willing to make tough decisions he is overshadowed by his wife ans aides. And finally when the assassin’s boss meets his end… we get a re-start and another threat.


Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Drama (1999)

The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Turlough to the London of 1702 where a mysterious highwayman roams the streets, a local occultist has made contact with the dead and gentlemen of fashion are disappearing, only to find themselves in a chamber whose walls weep blood…

The time travelers become enmeshed in the hideous plans of Sir Nikolas Valentine, a gambler at the mysterious Diabola Club who always seems to have a winning hand.

It’s a Stuart era monster/detective story. And rather pedestrian one at that.  Of course the ‘monster’ turns out to be an alien.



The Doctor — Peter Davison
Turlough — Mark Strickson
Henry Gaunt — Nicholas Briggs
Quincy Flowers — David Walliams
Edmund Carteret — Jonathan Rigby
Jasper Jeake — Mark Gatiss
Poltrot/Librarian/Major Billy Lovemore — Jez Fielder
Sir Nicholas Valentine — David Ryall
Dr Samuel Holywell — Steven Wickham
Hannah Fry — Julia Dalkin

24(1): 12:00AM – 3:00AM


The first season of the American drama television series 24, also known as Day 1, was first broadcast from November 6, 2001, to May 21, 2002 on Fox. The season’s storyline starts and ends at 12:00 a.m. on the day of the California presidential primary.

It’s the eve of the California Presidential Primary. Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert), sneaks out of the house to go out with friends. As Bauer’s wife, Teri (Leslie Hope), searches for Kim, Jack is called in for a meeting at CTU Los Angeles in response to a threat on Senator David Palmer’s (Dennis Haysbert) life that is believed to take place within the next 24 hours. Bauer discovers that there may be a mole inside CTU. Senator Palmer gets a disturbing phone call at his downtown Los Angeles hotel.

Jack’s plans to find his daughter are sidetracked when he gets a call from CTU agent Richard Walsh (Michael O’Neill), who is being stalked by assassins connected with the David Palmer hit. Walsh meets another CTU agent, Scott Baylor, who is subsequently killed. Mandy (Mia Kirshner) passes the ID card of a dead (presidential) photographer to Ira Gaines (Michael Massee), the man leading the assassination plot. Kim realizes that she and Janet York (Jacqui Maxwell) may be in danger, while Teri and Alan York (Richard Burgi) search for them. As Jack and Walsh escape from the assassins, Walsh is gunned down, but manages to throw a keycard to Jack, which contains information about a mole within CTU.

The files on Walsh’s key card finger Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) as a dirty agent. Kim and Janet try to escape from their captors while Teri and Alan continue their search.

Wow ! It’s been 15 years since the series was aired. The obvious precognition is the black senator looking to be President. It was in 2008 that this actually happened. The first plot problem I had was that Bauer cut off the finger of a dead assassin so he could get a fingerprint match. This was done to establish his character, despite being a family man, he was tough and brutal when necessary. The problem was that the way to scan the fingerprint was to use a portable scanner. Something he could have done without removing the finger. Next is the obvious ‘damsel in distress’ story-line of his daughter. It may be the 21st century, but this trope just won’t die.

It’s apparent that the use of constant background music is setting the tense tone of the series. It’s unrelenting and sometimes could do with some toning down. Still, a good start to an iconic thriller.




Bloodline (Star Wars)
by Claudia Gray (2016)

A prequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, set roughly six years before the events of the film.

Despite the positive reviews, this just isn’t as good as her previous book ‘The Lost Stars’ The main problem is the pacing and plot. The first two-thirds feel too slow. Not much happens and around the half-way mark I was not sure if I could continue. Then the action and pacing occurs in the last third of the book. Where ‘The Lost Stars’ had the grand sweep of the original trilogy as background, this feels very restricted to a few planets. And despite mostly taking place at the administrative centre of the galaxy, it lacks an epic space-opera feel expected of a Star Wars novel. I kept going to the end and a new beginning for Leia.


Rita Learns Things

Educating Rita
(Court Theatre)

Written by Willy Russell
Directed by Yvonne Martin
Starring George Henare & Kathleen Burns

From the writer of Blood Brothers (Willy Russell) comes his most acclaimed play, Educating Rita, an hilarious and often moving story of a woman determined to better herself.

Thinking that there is more to life than working in a hair salon, street-smart Rita, fizzing with ambition, sets out to find herself through higher education. Book-smart Frank, a failed poet with a failed marriage, has grown disillusioned with higher education and has just about given up. He agrees to tutor Rita to pay for his drinking habit, totally unaware his world is about to be turned upside down.

The unlikely pair form a life-changing bond as Frank enlivens Rita’s soul through Shakespeare and Chekhov, while Rita reawakens Frank with a breath of fresh air in this heart-warming comic masterpiece.

Review by Charlie Gates, The Press

A revival of British playwright Willy Russell’s classic 1980s play Educating Rita is a perfect showcase for two of New Zealand’s most-talented actors.

This charming, thoughtful and entertaining two-hander stars Court regular Kathleen Burns as the titular Rita White and celebrated stage actor George Henare as her university lecturer Frank.

Rita is a young hairdresser burning with curiosity and a reaching desire for something more than her working class existence in 1980s Liverpool. As she puts it, she wants bigger choices in her life than the one between butter and margarine. Hollow consumerism isn’t providing the freedom and choice she craves.

When she signs up for an English literature course at the Open University she is assigned to Frank, a jaded older lecturer and former poet who has lost his way in a cosy haze of Famous Grouse and comfortable academia.

It is a pleasure to watch the awakening of these two characters, portrayed in a series of sharply written scenes that take place over the course of more than a year. Frank is slapped awake from his boozy stupor by this dazzling young woman and her fresh perspective on his world. While Rita, through determination and hard work, builds herself a life of satisfying and meaningful choices.

Kathleen Burns is the blazing heart of this show. Her vivid portrayal of Rita is lit from within with verve, wit and conviction. The Liverpool accent is difficult to master, but Burns has the basics down, even though she occasionally drifts into other regions of England. I think she will settle more comfortably into the accent as the run continues.

But it hardly matters as Burns brings this character alive with such spark and clarity. Henare unselfishly allows Burns to shine, putting in a quiet and convincing performance as the disillusioned academic.

The two spar beautifully in the short and punchy scenes, perfectly maintaining a flawless and flowing tempo that captures the essence of each scene, character and moment.

One minor criticism is that there seems to be a slight lack of natural chemistry and spark between the two leads. This means a subplot about Frank being quietly besotted with Rita falls a bit flat. The gentle flirting is never returned by Rita and so feels a little awkward and uncomfortable. It means that some of the moments in the play’s closing moments do not quite pay off.

(NB: I would disagree as I never thought the relationship was ever intended to drift into being remotely  sexual)

The costume and set design is engineered to focus solely on these two characters and their changing world. Rita’s costumes slowly transform from bright and cheerful fashion to more sedate and sophisticated as her character changes. Meanwhile, Frank stays in his denim jeans and white shirt, unable to change in such dramatic fashion.

The single set also keeps the focus on these two characters. The small set, placed in the center of the stage, is a tight little slice of parquet-floored academia – cluttered with books, unmarked papers and half empty bottles of booze.

The costumes, lighting and set design all serve two wonderful performances by two wonderful actors, portraying raw curiosity and jaded academia as they blossom into new lives.

Review by Lindsay Clark, Theatreview

An affectionate revisiting of this classic two-hander is a warm reminder, as Russell puts it, of “things that matter”. He and we might have hoped that social concerns such as dispirited ignorance on one hand and pretentious institutionalized education on the other would have changed for the better over the past thirty odd years since it was first performed. If only.

However, the real drivers of the play are the timeless themes of the quest for personal freedom and expression as well as the bitter-sweet consequences of changing personal relationships, and these are handled with refreshing zeal.

Yvonne Martin’s direction has all the finesse of experience and insight, ensuring that there is an engaging overall build to a series of tutorial encounters which all take place in the context of The Open University in Liverpool in the eighties, all under our gaze in a single study.

Her creative team lays it all out for us in telling detail. Costume from Pamela Jones delivers working class likely lass and rumpled academic gear; authentic support from sound (Giles Tanner) and light (Sean Hawkins) underpins the realistic business which evolves beyond the black space of The Court’s outer stage.

The study itself, designed by Harold Moot, is suggestively frayed at the edges, angled for interesting use by the two actors and full of clues as to the nature of its occupant. Frank used to be a poet. Now he is more of a small wheel whose uninspired direction is set by his masters. Behind the books in his crowded shelves is the whisky which boosts his passion these days. Beyond that is the pub and a failing marriage that shapes his days. He is taking this Open University course to help fund the booze.

Into this retreat bursts Rita, hairdresser by trade, ardent seeker of wisdom and truth through the education she imagines a course in English literature will supply. There is scope for both humour and poignancy in the Pygmalion-like trajectory of the teacher-pupil relationship. She is on the rise, he is probably not, unless he can find his own renaissance in Australia, whence he is eventually posted as a reprimand for being drunk at lectures. As she gains the confidence and conviction to make informed and independent choices about “everything”, his own world suffers in comparison. The crossover pattern in their relative status is compelling.

It is a simple enough story but, like all of Willy Russell’s creations, it works strongly on our feelings. Frank, teaching critical analysis, would dismiss these as “subjective” and even “sentimental” but the honesty of the characters is nevertheless as touching as it is funny. Even as we enjoy the sparks and frustrations the mismatched pair encounter in the course of essays and readings, we are also aware of their deeper implications and of what happens when the pupil becomes the teacher.

As Rita and Frank, Kathleen Burns and George Henare are beautifully cast and impeccable in action. Rita comes off the page in marvelously brash technicolour, assertive Scouse accent and all. That does not preclude sensitivity and a certain childlike vulnerability when her hopes are temporarily dashed by her tutor’s firm judgements.

George Henare plays Frank with skill and intelligence, which elevates the role well beyond a superficial Henry Higgins type. His slow almost reluctant kindling of affection for this exasperating student and the barely controlled vexation she brings are handled with marvelous precision.

For the audience, the experience is an entirely satisfying blend of what we hope will happen and what we fear cannot be avoided. That richness of impression and humour ranging from innocent clanger to sophisticated irony enhance a fine production.

House of Cards 42-52



Chapter 42
Claire joins Frank as he campaigns in South Carolina, but he doesn’t trust her. A disastrous scandal blindsides Frank on primary day.

The race card is dealt, and Frank responds. But it’s too late, he losses his home state. Claire, despite her setback is clawing for her way back into the power game. The tension between them is continuing to rise.

After seeing a few episodes, the remainder were viewed over the weekend.

Chapter 43
Claire threatens Frank while Frank makes a politically bold move that may provoke Russia.

Chapter 44
Claire advises the VP Donald Blythe on dealing with Russia. Further investigation of Lucas Goodwin dredges up his accusations against Frank.

Chapter 45
Claire clashes with the Secretary of State Durant over her involvement in negotiations with Russia. Dunbar must choose between her campaign and her ethics.

Chapter 46
Frank and Claire adjust to their new reality. The search for Frank’s running mate begins. Frank starts a campaign to weaken Conway’s strong support.

Chapter 47
Formidable as ever, Frank and Claire have their eyes on the big picture as they manipulate a potential running mate and push a gun bill.

Chapter 48
At the convention, Frank and his team publicly push for Secretary of State Durant to be chosen as his running mate, but privately push a different agenda.

Chapter 49
As Frank deals with a new threat to his candidacy, Claire has doubts about their plan. Claire faces a difficult decision concerning her mother’s health.

Chapter 50
Frank ups the ante on the war on terror to counter Conway’s public criticism of his lack of action. Tom joins Claire on the campaign trail.

Chapter 51
Frank asks Conway to help deal with extremists threatening to murder hostages. Tom Hammerschmidt digs deeper into the allegations against Frank.

Chapter 52
As the hostage situation continues, Claire secretly negotiates with an extremist leader. Frank confronts Hammerschmidt.

Another good series with the usual persuasion and corruption expected from the first three series.


House of Cards 41



Chapter 41
As Claire begins exploring a campaign of her own, she and Frank engage in backdoor political maneuvering. But this time they’re not on the same side.

It’s Claire vs Franks, and a win to Frank for undermining her campaign. Claire resorts to dipping into the family assets, proving that blood is not thicker than water. The Russians are back and it looks like another bully to bully round is coming.

House of Cards 40



Chapter 40

 Clare’s absence causes problems for Frank on the campaign trail amid rumors of a marital rift. Claire tries to strike out on her own.

Frank is back, and more of a bulldog than before. Those loyal to him appear to be short in number. It’s Clare who looks like the real political operative here, even if she doesn’t get her way. And just who is the criminal let out of jail. Looks like he could be the next spanner in the works for the administration. An intriguing start to series 4.