Back, or the Great Return of Mitchell and Webb

backep187375-f1I’m moving away from my usual reviews to write about Back, David Mitchell and Robert Webb’s newest show currently airing on Channel 4 (although there’s only one episode left). The six-part series tells the story of Stephen, played by Mitchell, who returns to his childhood home following the death of his father. He returns to help his mother and sister run the family pub. At his father’s graveside, Andrew, played by Webb, shows up and claims to have been one of the many children that Stephen’s parents fostered over the years, although Stephen has no recollection of him. Andrew seems to have done it all and is extremely charming which immediately rubs the pessimistic Stephen up the wrong way. Mitchell’s character becomes increasingly suspicious of Andrew’s motive for returning and his intentions as he moves closer to the family. Is Andrew just after money? Is he trying to ruin the family? Is he in some way trying to save the family and the family business?

Or, and stay with me here, is Andrew in fact part of Stephen’s subconscious? Andrew seems to be everything Stephen wants to be: witty, charming, successful, and always full of inventive ideas to drum up new business for the pub. I think the writers perhaps expect us to think this. In Episode 5, Stephen professes to Andrew that he’s not mad and, without giving anything away, there’s a conversation between the two about their bodies getting mixed up. I think there are lots of nods to the Fight Club effect (i.e.-the two main characters are in fact one person) but we’ll find out if this is the case next week.

Back reunites Mitchell and Webb with Peep Show writer Simon Blackwell, and, for fans of Peep Show, I think this is very important. Although Back isn’t told through first-person perspective and we don’t hear the characters’ thoughts, Mitchell’s character often talks to himself when no one else is listening, letting us inside his head in a way. On top of this, Stephen is a very similar character to Mark, identical almost, so we immediately relate Mitchell’s character to Mark. Yet, we never hear Andrew’s thoughts or get any insight into his character and, for a fan of Peep Show, this is very unsettling. In a very smart way, Back plays on the audience’s familiarity with Mark and Jez and automatically makes us distrust Webb’s character. Of course, the writers know this and are obviously playing with the audience’s expectations of Mitchell and Webb but it demonstrates the prominence of their star personas and how pervasive Peep Show is in our minds and the writers’ minds.

So until the last episode in a few days, we’ll be asking ourselves, why are Stephen and Andrew’s recollections of their childhood so different? Were they even together? Is Stephen also a foster child? Is Andrew really Andrew?

And the real head scratcher: what really happened to Smelly Ellis?

A Review of Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

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Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct. . . .

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie’s help. Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found?

It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons—because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago. Continue reading

This is the End: A Review of End of the World: The Beginning (Book 1) by Nesly Clerge

33010239It’s 2050. The Order of World Society controls civilisation by chipping and tracking the privileged via a system called KATE (Kinetic Advanced Transitional Emissions). Those that are not chipped are mysteriously “disposed of”. The secretive Order oversees the movements and activities of society, predicting what people will buy, what they will want to watch, and where they will be at all times. They even control the weather. Nothing is left to chance. Continue reading

What Lies Beneath: A Review of Lies by TM Logan

What if your whole life was based on lies?lies

Joe Lynch has it all. Or so he thinks. He has been happily married to Mel for nearly ten years and has a four-year-old son William.  TM Logan’s intriguing debut novel begins with Joe spotting his wife entering the car park of a hotel when she should be at work. He decides to follow her and finds her engaged in an animated conversation with Ben, the husband of a friend. The encounter that follows, and its aftermath, change his life forever. Continue reading

Family Ties: A Review of The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

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Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

For me, the word ‘Roanoke’ immediately conjured up images from the last series of American Horror Story and I expected the book to be a horror. Although it isn’t a work in the horror genre, it’s one of the most disturbing books I’ve read in a very long time as it tackles one of society’s ultimate taboos. Continue reading

Criminal Mastermind: A Review of Quieter than Killing by Sarah Hilary

sarahhilarySometimes staying silent is the only way to stay alive.

Sarah Hilary returns with the fourth book in her DI Marnie Rome series and I must start this review by admitting I haven’t read the first three books. Yet, my enjoyment of the book as a stand alone narrative shows its strength and the strength of its author. The characters are so engaging and the writing is so well-crafted that I want to read the first three books to learn more about the characters and the common story weaving throughout the series involving Marnie’s foster brother Stephen Keele. Continue reading