Alphabet of Entertainment: J is for Jam

This week, J!

Board Games: Jungle Speed

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Broadly speaking, I am not a fan of reflex games, but I am willing to make an exception for Jungle Speed.  It plays a lot like snap, with with some added layers of complexityy.  For example, you begin by looking for cards that share exactly the same shape or pattern, regardless of colour, but there are cards that change this to colour rather than shape.  There are other cards that make you play simultaneously or otherwise affect play.  The game is also played around a totem which you grab instead of striking the pile of cards as in Snap.

I’ve found that this game works well with a lot of different age groups.  It can take a little while for people to get a grasp of the different card effects, but otherwise it is quite straightforward.  Some of the embellishments in the rulebook seem a bit OTT, but they add to the fun, with or without the implied racism.

Books: Jam

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As a fan of his Zero Punctuation game review videos, I’ve long liked Yahtzee Croshaw.  I absolutely loved his first novel, Mogworld, and was excited to read the second novel, Jam.  Jam is now my go-to novel when it comes to explaining the concept of a narrative hook.  Here is how it begins:

I woke up one morning to find that the entire city had been covered in a three-foot layer of man-eating jam.

Jam is a survival tale, dealing with a previously unexplored doomsday scenario.  I liked the book, and the audiobook is fantastically narrated by Yahtzee himself.  Despite this, it doesn’t quite live up to Croshaw’s debut novel, Mogworld.

Film: Juno

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Juno is the story of a sixteen year old girl (the titular Juno) who falls pregnant.  She then has to deal with several tough decisions on what to do, tell her family about what happened, address her feelings for her baby’s father and still attend the school where she has never really fit in.

This really is an excellent film that is well written and perfectly presented.  The attention to detail and the level of care that was taken throughout the production of this film is startling and immediately apparant.  Every set is perfectly composed.  The music is also wonderfully quirky, consisting largely of songs by Kimya Dawson and several of the groups she has been part of.

Every character is well fleshed out, with excellent, witty, sharp dialogue.  Ellen Page and Michael Cera both put in amazing performances, but each of the supporting actors are also excellent.  Alison Janney, Jason Bateman and J. K. Simmons are all amazing, and even bit-parts like Rainn Wilson’s are perfectly pitched:

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I’m not saying Juno is the best film I’ve ever seen, but it’s just this perfect little self-contained… thing.  And it makes me smile.

Television: Jonathan Creek

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By modern detective show standards, this is an incredibly tame show.  There’s not much in the way of gore and violence, though I don’t think that’s much of a criticism.  Jonathan Creek focuses on deduction rather than action and often dealt with crimes that seemed supernatural but which had mundane, if ingenious methodologies behind them.

Jonathan Creek himself is a consultant to a stage magician, using his keen understanding of illusion to create tricks.  He is encouraged to turn his mind to mysteries by Maddy Magellan, an investigative journalist played by Caroline Quentin. After three series, Quentin left the show and the producers, keen to maintain the Doctor Who-style setup of a male protagonist and female companion, replaced her with, in turn, Julia Sawalha, Sheridan Smith and Sarah Alexander.

The show started off dealing with absurdities, but became darker and more threatening over time, in-keeping with trends of the time, but still ultimately relying on deduction as the driving force rather than action.

The show is generally well-written and quite consisten.  The dialogue is good and each of the companions has had good, but very different chemistry with Creek.  I really like the Sheridan Smith period in particular, as I feel it refreshed and revitalised the show.

There have been no episodes since March 2014 and there has been no news about the show’s future, but it has undergone longer gaps before.

 

Next week, K!

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