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Another excellent, beautiful, haunting, fascinating episode, but also the weakest one so far
Another excellent episode in what is probably the best TV I've seen since the 6th season of Game of Thrones. But I was surprised and a little disappointed by how little time was spent covering the rooftop liquidators. Their role was arguably the most fascinating, intense and horrifying of all those involved in the Chernobyl clean-up.
The actual real, raw footage of them carrying out their jobs is terrifyingly eerie, and this episode *did* capture that very well, but only very briefly.
After a short introduction to their roles, we see one team performing their intense 90 second clean-up on the roof, and one final team hoisting the communist flag at the end to signify mission complete (and suggest that the final episode, which I have yet to watch, doesn't revisit their activities).
So that's probably it as far as the rooftop liquidators goes. A shame - would've loved to have seen half the episode dedicated to them to be honest (in contrast too much time was devoted to the wildlife liquidators).
The Grand Tour: Feed the World (2018)
More of this please
As others have noted this is not the best special they've done, but importantly it *is* a special - yes, finally, at the end of the season, we get treated to one.
How much I've missed the hour-long specials that save us from the tedious and unfunny introductions to 'conversation street' and the infinitely worse celebrity segment. I always thought, throughout the first season, that although the celebrity segment wasn't in the least bit amusing, it was at least short. This season it's like they're punishing us for daring to complain about the celeb section by making it take up about a third of each episode's running time (ergh!).
So if only for that reason alone the special gets extra marks.
As for the merits of the special itself, well the concepts they came up with were of course fatuous (even for the trio's standards), but people taking offence to the special are either being entirely too delicate or are missing the point that it's meant as a (very good) parody of celebrity engagement with world poverty/hunger.
The other reason specials are so much better than the other content on GT (and TG before it) is that it allows for spontaneous comedy, rather than the canned, scripted gags that usually fall flat throughout the rest of the show. So they were plenty of moments of off-the-cuff humour that are the best parts of the trio's routine. The location and journey wasn't as good as most other specials, and the task didn't evolve as they progress, which is the episode's main weakness for me.
Still, probably the best episode of the season, if only for the fact that it's an hour-long special that spares us from the worst parts of the regular episodes.
Super Size Me (2004)
All Rather Pointless
It is genuinely interesting, watching Morgan Spurlock attempt to eat nothing but McDonalds. There's something quite perversely satisfying as we see him become repulsed by eating the same foods all the time, but it fails to make a larger point.
Obviously Spurlock's attempting to point out how unhealthy McDonalds is (quelle surprise), but he does so not from an objective stand-point but from one where he has already made his mind up as to how he wishes to portray the company and its product, Michael Moore-style. If it's not clear from his own reporting, then the imposition of rather daft rules demonstrates this perfectly (if they ask him if he wants a larger size he always has to say yes, he always has to eat three full meals a day, and he must eat every item on the menu). But why is never really made clear. Is it because consumers are too stupid to make decisions for themselves? Whatever the reasoning, the scientific method is clearly not for Spurlock.
But even if he had conducted a truly scientific study, it still would've been pointless. McDonlads, as far as I know, have never encouraged consumers to eat nothing but McDonalds - the very idea is ridiculous. No one is surprised Spurlock puts on weight and quickly becomes terribly unhealthy, and nor should they be.
Rather, Super Size Me is simply an attempt to moralise. Spurlock gets on his soap box and essentially says 'McDonlads is evil and you shouldn't eat their stuff. Better yet, McDonlads should be banned, for the good of you all'.
People who have always hated McDonlads congratulate him for it while glorying in their own smug condescension at the lack of taste of the proles, McDonalds go into panic mode - on the one hand conducting a PR campaign to argue they're not an evil corporation while with the other they introduce new, healthier ranges of food, and the average consumer proves wiser than the lot of them and carries on having a (proper) McDonalds every once in a while.
Infuriating and Moralising
I've recently been watching Babylon 5 for the first time, going through the episodes in order. After having now watched the first 3 seasons I've come to the firm conviction that episodes which don't contribute towards the overarching story arc of the Shadows tend to be by far the weakest of the bunch.
This, in part, is because it was not until the first hints at a lengthy, epic story arc were made that I began to finally appreciate Babylon 5 (and for this reason the first season is largely a dud to me). The overarching story arc of the Shadows and all that they entail (most notably, thus far, instigating the war between the Centauri and the Narn) is compelling in its breadth and potential.
Passing Through Gethsemane, as other reviewers have noted here, is a filler episode. It does nothing to push forwards the major story arc and does little to add to it either. Not necessarily a negative thing, if the self-contained story were interesting. It isn't.
The monk-like religious order which came onto the station a few episodes back takes centre stage, which in itself is the first negative. Their patronising nature is annoying at the best of times and they frankly make for bland character studies.
Enter 'Brother Edward', a serial killer whose mind and personality has been wiped as punishment for his crimes. The Edward we see here is one who does not know anything of his past, and is as far as we know 'a good man'. He slowly learns about his past, however, through the events of the episode.
We're supposed to sympathise with Edward - and certainly every major character in this episode does, from Sheridan (who ridiculously loathes the man who ultimately kills Edward, even after he undergoes the same memory wiping process - a man whose loved one(s) were killed by Edward and wishes for revenge/justice - but is hugely sympathetic to Edward) to Ivanova (who simply refuses to even acknowledge that Edward was a serial killer).
It's all extremely frustrating, almost infuriating. If anything I sympathise with the person who kills Edward - he becomes a killer not because of his own sadistic nature like Edward, but because of a drive for retribution and because society now refuses to truly punish killers.
There's certainly a debate to be had there, but the writing in this episode preaches at the viewer, much in the same way as Brother Theo preaches his creed in almost every conversation he engages in - you're told who you're supposed to sympathise with and who to condemn, without any hint of subtlety, and not a single member of the crew argues against any of it.