Latest Dispatches

On The Screen – August ’14


Global Television Network
Created by Michael MacLennan & Adrienne Mitchell

I first stumbled across Canadian series Bomb Girls by accident as it seemed to slip under the radar here in the UK. Met with very mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, for me it was love at first sight.

Bomb Girls is a World War II drama with an accessible soap opera feel – An easy yet fascinating watch for WW II aficionados, vintage lovers and anyone with an interest in the evolution of women’s rights.

Set in a Canadian munitions factory, Bomb Girls conjures a genuinely old-worldly feel, a haunting nostalgia that saw me instantly imagining how life was for my great grandmother and her friends in the 1940s.

While the overall style and fashions of the main characters enthralled me from the beginning, Bomb Girls is more than a mere 1940s fashion show. Tackling themes such as friendship, independence and crippling social expectations, it doesn’t shy away from darker, more provocative plot themes involving sexual harassment, infidelity, abortion and lesbianism.

Sadly, Bomb Girls was cancelled after two seasons. But, for unsatisfied fans like me, there is hope. Bomb Girls – Facing the Enemy, a two hour feature film, has just been released in the US and Canada. Die-hard fans who are still left wanting more can join the fight to bring back Bomb Girls online at www.savebombgirls.com.

Review by: Jess Champion

Mad Men

AMC Networks
Created by Matthew Weiner

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Mad Men, if you haven’t heard of it, is a period drama based around an advertising agency on Madison Avenue. It’s set in the 1950s and 1960s, reaching the 1970s in the final series.

It’s the shows leading man, the archetypal tall broad shouldered and well dressed businessman, Mr. Don Draper (or Dick Whitman for long term followers) who steals the limelight above all others. Don is the seemingly suave and sophisticated creative director of the company, whose way of viewing the world brings the company a large portion of its fortunes.

In bringing in a large amount of business for the company, Don is given a license to do almost anything he wants and takes advantage of this with regards to spending money, trying a range of drugs and sleeping with various members of the cast, and a whole range of one-off characters. It’s the belief that men want to be him, and women feel an overwhelming need to try and save him, that seem to keep Don going. Although, so far, no man has managed to be him and no woman has come close to saving him, with a trail of divorce and children in his wake.

Whilst there are other characters of note, the strong female leads, Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway (later Harris), and the irrepressible Roger Sterling and Pete Campbell, it is Don’s world they all live in. Whilst it can be said, that where Don may get all the girls, it is Roger who gets all of the best lines.

As the series progresses you begin to see the ever increasing cracks in Don’s amour. He somehow manages to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on most occasions; although, with a trail of failed relationships and his very mysterious past always one step behind him, you can’t help but think that a final fall from grace is awaiting Mr Draper somewhere down the line.

Review by: Jon Owen

Mob City

Created by Frank Darabont


Based on the book: L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City by John Buntin

The series is based on the real life accounts of the L.A.P.D’s struggle with the Mob, beginning in 1947. The protagonist is the hard-nosed and somewhat of a “cowboy” Detective, Joe Teague, who is a Marine fresh from fighting on the Pacific front in World War II. It is hard to say if it is the wooden acting or the era where “men were men” which holds the show back; is this true to life or actually a rather fortunate accident? Either way this actually seems to work for the actor Jon Bernthal (formerly of The Walking Dead) who brings a gruff determination to the role.

The show itself is being shown from three perspectives, the street wise Gangsters and associates, the L.A.P.D and the unfortunate “dame” or “damsel in distress”, who is depicted as Teague’s ex-wife Jasmine Fontaine played by Alexa Davalos (formerly of Clash of the Titans and Defiance), each with their own parts to play in the unfolding events.

The show touches on the usual topics of who is really good and bad, and do we need the so called good guys to have an element of bad in them to eventually win the day and retain a chance of redeeming themselves in the process. One of the early topics covered is the fact that a lot of men have returned from the Second World War in far worse mental shape than when they left.

All of the above is set in the attire and surroundings of the day, from the loud shirted gangster to the short tied cops, which helps to bring a sense of realism. The show itself aims to set off at a fast pace on a conflict, which was drawn out over a long period. Any fans of Board Walk Empire would be recommended to keep a wide berth, as the requirement to keep to fact over fiction will be heavily scrutinised by the less than forgiving American public, whose love affair with the gangsters and mobsters appears as unshakable as ever.

However, there is much room for improvement throughout the series and the previously mentioned costume and set designers may pull the show into a second and third series. For anyone who would like to see a scaled down version of the events, please refer to Josh Brolins Gangster Squad of 2013; however, if you are trying to fill in a gap between much more established series, you could do far worse than to keep up with this show.

Review by: Jon Owen