08 June 2015

TV: Premium Bond

Premium Bond is a 55-minute programme in which Mark Gatiss and Matthew Sweet go through all six big screen Bonds to discuss which is their favourite. Like all documentaries or panels the pair appear on, they're clearly avid, well-versed fans of Bond and their differences in opinions make for the most entertaining parts of this feature.

Discussing a smattering of films, including each actor's first and last, the pair traverse the entire franchise, from 1962 to 2012. While it seems their opinions have long been set, each still makes some interesting points, even if I personally disagree with them. The commentary about how the films compare to contemporary events was one of my highlights, and help lend a bit of context to the production.

There is a bit of bias in time length, as it feels like Sweet's favourite Timothy Dalton is afforded about the same discussion time as Sir Roger Moore, who of course starred in over three times as many films. Some of the points raised aren't uncommon opinions, but it's the way the merits and disadvantages of each film and actor are covered that are the real highlight of Premium Bond

For me, Daniel Craig is the ultimate Bond and I agree with the conclusion reached here that Casino Royale is his strongest film yet (as well as being my favourite of the entire franchise). That Gatiss' favourite is Sean Connery doesn't come as much of a surprise, given how enamoured he is with '6os culture, but I did think George Lazenby got a bit of an unfairly rough ride here. Sweet states unequivocally that he's "not really an actor", which is something I'd refute. Like Gatiss, I think the end of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, his sole film, disproves this if you're still not convinced by that point. It was nice to see some of my other favourites, including Goldfinger and Live and Let Die, get a look-in.

This isn't a groundbreaking documentary that will change your perception of the Bond films - if anything, it will probably solidify any opinions you already hold. It's just two friends sitting down to chat about which Bond is their favourite over a Vesper. This is by no means essential viewing, but that doesn't mean it's not enjoyable. It's a wonderful way to pass an hour, and the business with the barman is the cherry on top.

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