#telosvision: autumn tellybox

so, here, as promised

is the second part of my Autumn TV (p)review. this time round we’re dealing with UK product.

returning programmes

The Thick of It: i’m sure don’t really need to sell anyone on Armando Iannucci’s superb Westminster sendup, which, now that we’ve reached phase ‘coalition’, seems to be the exact inverse of This Week with Andrew Neil, in that the political news stories from the week ahead are insightfully and entertainingly predicted. as it got going early (at the start of last month) only two episodes of the seven in the series now remain, but one of those (tonight’s) is an hour-long special. [BBC Two, Saturdays, 9:45PM – or here (catch up here)]

Friday Night Dinner: one of last year’s big surprises was that i watched, enjoyed and recommended a programme that featured not one (see below), but two of the Inbetweeners, including one of the two most annoying ones (Simon Bird). still, i guess if ever there were company in which they could bring a smile to my mostly saggy, sullen face it would consist of Mark Heap, Tamsin Greig and (the surprise star of series 1) Paul Ritter, all being written by Robert Popper. it’s not quite an all-time classic (at least not yet), but i have to say that i smiled fairly widely when i heard it was returning. [Channel 4, Oct TBA – catch up here]

Peep Show: yes, series 8 of the smash comedy about two guys who live in a flat and talk to themselves out loud except not exactly out loud cos only we can hear them, draws nigh. series 7 left us with Mark set to shack up with Dobby and Jez at a loose end after fucking off Super Hans by being with Zahra, then fucking off Zahra by being himself. who knows what wild japes the El Dude Brothers (*does the truck honk action and sound*) will get into this time round, but even with the format/schtick getting slightly tired, i’d say it has a decent chance of being amusing. [Channel 4, Fridays from 9th Nov, 10PM – catch up here]

Fresh Meat: obviously i’m not part of the target audience, but hey, it’s well written, only stars one of The Inbetweeners and the first scene of the new series featured a discussion about the poshness of students at my what-Americans-call Alma Mater filmed in and behind our local supermarket. there’s also the small matter of Kimberley Nixon, who is not only very lovely, and thoroughly (if briefly) topless in Cherrybomb, but also, i’d like to remind you all, 27 years of old. [Channel 4, Oct – catch up here]thehour

The Hour: last year’s first series crept up on me like some sort of ninja, Britified Good Night and Good Luck with pre-Q Ben Whishaw, post-Wire Jimmy McNulty and the very lovely Romola Garai. yes! more of you. [BBC Two, Nov – catch up here]

new programmes

Hunted: after several series of having new characters with new names and faces play the same 6 roles in slightly different scenarios, the writers of Spooks have branched considerably out and made a who new series in which the same things happen again. although i’ve long thought it ridiculous, i have to say i did actually watch every series of Spooks, so there’s a fair chance the same thing will happen again. having said that, the thing that drew me in at the start of Spooks was the characters (which got considerably worse as time went on) and the characters in Hunted have not grabbed me so far. still, it’s worth a peek if you’ve got a whole in your schedule. [BBC One, Thursdays, 9:00PM]

hebburnHebburn: a debut sitcom from stand-up Simon Cook, Hebburn is about a working-class family from the eponymous North East town meeting and coming to terms with their new (middle-class and Jewish) daughter-in-law, who their son, Jack, met in Manchester and (inebriatedly) married in Vegas. it boasts the impressive talents of Vic Reeves (as Jim Moir), Gina McKee, Chris Ramsey and Kimberley Nixon (who i would happily watch read the phonebook), but seems set to inhabit in a pleasantly low-key manner. in several ways it has a similar (if inverted) dynamic to BBC Three’s Cuckoo (see below), but, so far, its quality and tone is more reminiscent of Gavin and Stacey or The Royal Family. it remains to be seen if it can step into the big shoes laid out by those latter comparisons, but the first two episodes represent a strong start. [BBC Two, Thursdays, 10PM]

Cuckoo: Andy Samberg (the one who always gets to go in the middle in The Lonely Island’s popular YouTube videos and also had a small role in the best Hollywood rom-com in 15 years, Friends With Benefits) is now stretching the budget of this otherwise diminutive BBC Three offering. having said that, he’s saved them a bit on costumes by having his clichéd, Orientalist, clueless eastern-spirituality-guru-wannabe, stoner twat character wear the same costume that he used in the Ras Trent video. the premise is that Rachel, a bright, lower middle-class student arrives back from a pre-University summer trip to Thailand married to Cuckoo, Samberg’s aforementioned twat, which is a surprise to her parents. i like Greg Davies (who plays the dad), and Helen Baxendale (who’s being the mum) has clearly still got it all going on, but i hate that tiger-boy from 2.3 Children (who plays the younger brother). basically, it could turn out to be good, but having seen the first two episodes, i’d be surprised if it did. [BBC Three, Tuesdays, 10PM]

thegirl• The Girl: gazing ahead a few months, there is a persistent buzz surrounding HBO’s latest TV film (which is apparently slated to form part of the BBC’s Christmas schedule). Toby ‘Droopy’ Jones and Sienna Miller head up a loose adaptation of Donald Spoto’s 2009 book Spellbound by Beauty: Alfred Hitchcock and His Leading Ladies, or at least the parts of it that concern Tippi Hedren – whose daunting shoes Miller will be fending off birds with. i’m sure that this, combined with Sacha Gervasi’s forthcoming Hitchcock biopic, Hitchcock, starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren, is filling every Hitch fan with as much nervous energy as it is me. [HBO/BBC Two, TBC]

Into 2013 (aka ‘hurrah for BBC Two’)

• Dancing On The Edge: there are not a lot of details about this yet, but a new Stephen Poliakoff drama about a black jazz band performing in 1930s London which stars Chiwetel Ejiofor is more than enough information for my interest to have piqued. [BBC Two, TBC]

thefall• The Fall: again, a significant hum surrounds this British/Irish series which is set to star Scully out of Mulder and Scully out of the X-Files as a murder police. i’m thinking that it’s bidding to be the new The Killing but that, visually/tonally, it will possibly be somewhat along the lines of Hit & Miss, although hopefully it will turn out to be more from column A and less from column B than Sky Atlantic’s disappointment. despite the title, it is now scheduled to air in the Spring. [BBC Two, TBC]

• Top of the Lake: although the competition from those above is strong, the title of most anticipated piece of Spring drama would have to go to this Anglo-US-Australian (BBC/Sundance Channel/ABC) New Zealand-set mini-series about the hunt for a missing and pregnant 12-year-old. Jane Campion is involved behind the camera, and Elizabeth Moss, Holly Hunter, Peter Mullan and David Wenham are said to be among those working in front. Rumours are rife that before appearing on the small screen it might be doing the festival circuit (starting, i’d guess, with Sundance). Tantalising. [BBC Two, TBC]

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