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Skyfall 50 years of Bond (still not sure) & Downton Abbey ( likewise) – Dallas still to come

Tom Winnifrith
Sunday 4 November 2012

I still have one episode of Dallas and one DCI Banks to catch up on. That treat can wait until tomorrow. Meanwhile, my programme of trying to watch a film a week while watching only quality TV ( i.e. nothing made by the BBC) continues and – having watched every Bond film ever made – I troop along to see the latest offering: Skyfall. Half a day later I am still not quite sure what to make of it. It was very different to all the other recent Bond movies. It is worth watching but it is… different.

Daniel Craig’s Bond is exposed for the wreck that he has become. Drink has become a real issue and his personality flaws, driven perhaps from the childhood loss of his parents are laid bare. This is perhaps the most personal Bond film ever made. And that makes it different. The clever gadgets that featured in all previous Bond flicks have also gone. This is the age of cyber crime and Bond seems to have picked up on the e-revolution fairly quickly. The violence, the one line asides and the good looking birds are all still part of the drama but this is a darker Bond.

Having the last part of the film shot in England and Scotland was refreshing. I have grown a bit tired of the constant trips through China and Asia (although needless to say there is a long China section).

The new world of Bond is supposed to reflect aspects of modern Britain. Moneypenny is Afro-Carribean. M15 is berated by useless politicians and no doubt has policies on elf n’safey and is an equal opportunities employer which must adhere to new, tighter, budgets and forces agents to undergo psychological analysis. Bond himself is of a byegone age but this dinosaur always adapts.

Bond is a mammoth franchise and as we celebrate 50 years of the franchise there were some nice touches in the film: the old car and the final scenes back in the old office with a new Moneypenny and the latest M. I was almost waiting for Craig to find a hat to lob with complete precision onto the hat rack. But no-one wears hats these days. Overall: slow in parts but pretty good.

The one real negative (and this ties in with Downton) is that in order to get a decent seat I had to sit through what seemed an eternity of adverts all cashing in on the Bond franchise in a shameless way. James Bond bin liners? M spectacle cases? Moneypenny stockings. I am sure they are all available and the stars seem happy to promote them. By the time the actual film started I felt i had already wached half a Bond flick.

And so we turn to the last episode of Downton sponsored by P&O luxury cruises who I shall never forgive for the advert deluge that has scarred this series. I shall never be a customer. Where are we now? It looks as if the IRA man is going to stay and manage the Estates and that predatory gay footman Thomas will get his comeuppance at last. That is a shame. If he departs I shall miss his nastiness and villainy. Lady Mary and the pompous prig Crawley remain which adds nothing. Is Lady Edith set for a fling with her newspaper editor? How will the buffoonish Lord Grantham seek to bankrupt Downton next? Invest the Swire fortune in Weimar bonds?

I guess that will have to wait for the next series or a Christmas special. Naturally I shall watch but the show needs an injection of life. Edith has to hook up with someone with fizz (I am sure he will be deemed unsuitable for her) to inject some excitement. The prig Crawley and Lady Mary need a bit of a personality injection or a one way ticket to America. This has been the weakest series to date. It is still gripping but I fear this franchise is slipping.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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