been supporters of the creative and good folks over at Improv Everywhere, and we especially enjoy their annual ‘No Pants Subway Ride’. here is a taste of what went down at this year’s:
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been supporters of the creative and good folks over at Improv Everywhere, and we especially enjoy their annual ‘No Pants Subway Ride’. here is a taste of what went down at this year’s:
Dr King’s birthday and here at RQT we are more than happy to try to continue Stevie Wonder’s vision of a world party to celebrate peace and remember the legacy of a truly great man.
Happy Birthday by
Well, what can I say. It’s been another year hasn’t it, undeniably, and as such Christmas has nearly arrived towards the end. 2012 has been an averagely poor year for us, bringing only a few highlights.
Of course the big story of our ‘year’ came in July courtesy of Grenada’s second year at University results, for which he achieved a grade of 56.8% – which actually represents a much better achievement than it sounds like it does, given the squalid living conditions for which his landlord refuses to take responsibility. Also, of course, we were also delighted by Amy-Brenda’s end of Year9 contemporary/Latin dance interpretation of Dickens’ Edwin Drood, which she and three-friends not only single-handedly wrote, choreographed and starred in, but also got rave reviews for in the parish magazine.
As for us olds, our year has been somewhat dogged by health. For me, the light-relief of February’s ‘passed with flying colours’ general check-up having been tempered by March’s childhood-Polio diagnosis. Still, the maddeningly small, orange tablettas non-regulariados I’ve been taking from Brazil seem to have made a real difference and I’m now able to be back fully in the shed at weekends. For Angela, 2012 is probably best forgotten what with turning 44 and her tetraphobia (fear of the number four) being as you know worse than ever.
Signalling, as it did, the passing of Angela’s mum Kathy May, May was hard. We all miss her, and prefer to think less of how she was toward the end and more about the good times.
Moreover, we were as a family of course particularly saddened by this year’s deaths of astronaut Neil Armstrong, film director Tony Scott, the several recent children in Newtown, Connecticut and former Liverpool defender Gary Ablett. As I’m sure were you all. RIP.
Nevertheless, those of you who’ve been asking will be pleased to hear that the saga of the internet has finally rectified itself in more or less our favour. Virgin Media remain insistent that the service was ‘perfectly within acceptable realms of the service offered’ and that routers do not and never have burned cats, and are also still refusing to withdraw the public decency claim against my brother-in-law and lawyer-at-law David, but a man did recently come out to refit a new box and the speed now seems to have settled down at only slightly less than Steven at number 11 usually gets, for a much more palatable £19.40/month.
I am personally disappointed not to be able to announce an end to my on-going and sour feud with our local Liberal Democrat member of parliament Adrian Dobless over the frequency and quality of waste removal, nor my spat with our neighbour to the east, Neville, over his unsightly fencing and dog. Perhaps 2013 will prove itself more diplomatic.
Likewise we are all sad not to be able to welcome our Georgian friend Brijan (pronounced like the English) for Christmas again this year as a result of him not having been able to get a visa.
Sarah’s late-October ‘announcement’ about a Spring wedding with her current Hindu boyfriend is still very much in discussion, but needless to say we are proud of everything she has achieved in her job at Littlewoods (department store, NOT bookmaker).
Well, given that I can hear that a courier has apparently come to the door with a parcel for a Michael Limble, sorry Lambert (I misheard Angela), who obviously does not live here, I should go and sort that out. As such, little now remains other than to wish you all a very MERRY CHRISTMAS from all of us and send our very best for 2013 (how odd it feels writing that?!).
so, here, as promised
is the second part of my Autumn TV (p)review. this time round we’re dealing with UK product.
• 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]
• 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]
• 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]
• Hebburn: 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]
• 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]
• 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]
greetings tellybox fans
summer has gone, and it’s that time of year when i share my thoughts and opinions about the treats that are being offered up by bosses in TVville for our Autumn/Fall delectation. please accept my apologies that this year’s offerings have arrived so late, but for some reason i’ve just not been able to sit down and get this post written before now. in my defence, there is a lot to consider this year, in fact, that in order not to overface you i’ve divided things up into two posts, this first one will handle shows from the States and a subsequent one will examine British programmes.
as far as i’m concerned it’s something of a vintage in terms of returning series in the US, with quality reigning over quantity – however, i have to say that i’m less enthused by the new offerings than i would like and suspect the opposite is true where they are concerned.
however, let’s just pause a moment to honour some shows to which we are wishing farewell as they prepare to wrap up for a long Winter sleep. last night, for example, saw the finale of another great season of Louie. i laughed (a lot) i cried (a bit) and the cameos by David Lynch are perhaps my favourite of all in the three seasons so far. while the final episode of this season was in the tradition of the more muted, reflective ones, the scene where Louie attempts to reattach the doll’s eyes, and in particular his use of the phrase “shit on my father’s balls” was up there with my favourites.
the other big loss to me was The Newsroom, which wrapped at the end of August and was definitely my favourite new show of 2012 so far. despite having possibly the sappiest credit sequence in television history and being sort of a remake of his comic-drama from 2006/7 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – which i liked but was, despite being not really very similar, deemed too similar to 30 Rock to be renewed – Aaron Sorkin’s latest TV offering really grabbed me.
the performances were pretty much all-round excellent, with Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Olivia Munn (xxxx) and Sam Waterston deserving of special praise. possibly most impressive of all, however, was Dev Patel, who for the first time ever did acting that i didn’t TOTALLY HATE, but actually sort of liked. quite incredible. however … i don’t know what it is about Sorkin, but i always seem to like the stuff everyone else hates (A Few Good Men, Studio 60) and vice-versa (The West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, Moneyball). i’m honestly not trying to be contrary, but if my track record is anything to go by, despite being renewed for a second season, The Newsroom might want to watch it’s back.
anyway, not wanting to dwell on what has passed, let’s turn to the shows that are being being unwrapped and placed back on the shiny shelf. (nb. when it comes to stuff i’ve already seen, whilst i will be mentioning some aspects, i will, as always, try hard not to drop any significant spoiler-bombs.)
for those of you who aren’t up to speed with any of the returning series mentioned but would like to be, this post comes to you sponsored by BBC iPlayer, 4OD, Hulu, HideIPVPN (which is just my favourite of the many online services that can help you to watch Hulu when not in the US or iPlayer when not in the UK) and probably most importantly of all watchseries.eu, which is the place to go to catch up with previous or current seasons of pretty much any major series that has so far eluded you. the internets are brilliant, peeps, use them.
• Treme: top of the tree, the long awaited return of the brilliant New Orleans-based drama created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who as far as i’m concerned are giants among men in a metaphorical world where being able to reach high things is a sign of wisdom, decency, truthfulness and beauty. wheel number one of what i’m calling ‘the Sunday Trike of Awesome’, season 3 began Sunday last and is already right back up to speed. David Simon has always stuck to the same logic – “follow the money”. with two years now between itself and Katrina, NOLA (and the Tremé in particular) still has a long way to go. housing is still the hot topic, and there’s plenty of green notes to be made, if you know the right people. meanwhile, everyone else will just have to keep fighting just to stay put. [HBO, Sundays, 10PM ET – or here]
• Boardwalk Empire: Sunday Trike of Awesome wheel number two stands in the shape of season 3 of Terence Winter’s artfully crafted, cruel and awkward prohi-era surviveathon. there are some series that it’s really not worth going back and starting on if you missed the boat first time round, but this is not one of them – for those who’ve been slow on the uptake hereabouts, you really need to get on board. that having been said, i won’t add too much by means of comment on this season other than to say that as long as Chalky White is around to see what becomes of AC under the redoubled if not exactly untroubled Thompson regime and to witness the inevitable increase in focus on New York and Chicago then i’m happy. [HBO, Sundays, 9PM ET – or here]
• Homeland: wheel three is season 2 of Showtime’s big hitter from last Autumn (which i only caught up with when it was broadcast here in this Spring). as regular readers might remember, i took a few episodes to get into Homeland – again, the credits were a significant turn off – but i eventually became hooked. you might also remember, however, that despite my enhookedment, i had some reservations concerning both its sexual ethics and the role of mental illness. in the end, i was sad to see that it fell into a couple of the mental illness pitfalls that i’d laid out, and i’d say the whole thing about sexuality still has a way to go before all the cards are on the table. however, reservations not withstanding, this time round it has definitely been upgraded to my ‘watch US broadcast’ list.
season 2 premiered on Sunday, but don’t worry i won’t give anything away. he’s made it all the way from tutoring a terrorist’s son in Afghanistan to sitting in the US Congress, but deep down i think we all know that he’s still, he’s still Brody from the hole. expect a lot more drawn-out squinting and secret Muslimising to distrustful music from Brody, and pestering from the CIA plus drawn-out ambiguity over how long it will take her to remember the link between Brody and Nazir’s son (that inconveniently solidified in her head seconds before her ECT began) from Carrie. [Showtime, Sundays, 10PM ET – or here]
• New Girl: i’m still not really sure why i like New Girl quite as much as i do. but i really do. like it. in spite of her name, i’ve always liked Zooey Deschanel and she’s definitely one of the reasons it works so well, but the thing i wasn’t really prepared for was the writing being so consistently great. from the outside it might look a bit flyaway, like it’s on the same level as something trivial like The Big Bang Theory, but it’s not. it’s actually really good. I can honestly say that i desire nothing more from season 2 than more of the same, please. [Fox, Tuesdays from 9th Oct, 9PM ET – or here]
• Vegas: let’s start with CBS’s headliner, which sets out to tell the story of the early days of Sin City seemingly by mainly pitting just-in-from-Chicago casino boss Vincent Savino – played by Vic from The Shield (Michael Chiklis) looking more like a bulky Bruce Willis than ever – against Ralph Lamb, Dennis Quaid’s brooding old-skool-Nevada-rancher/lawman. at the start of the pilot, grizzed ol’ man Lamb, who was a distinguished MP during the war, is installed as an emergency Deputy Sheriff while the current Sheriff hides from some mobsters that he double crossed and ‘ratted out’ to the authorities. Lamb just wants to run his ranch in peace, but, since that stupid big dam got built, the small city that’s sprung up near his land is becoming a pain in his skinny, Lee-clad ass.
what he doesn’t want is planes to fly over his land, or fancy, arrogant Italian out-of-towners to climb above their stations. what he does want is to punch people in the face and wear his Stetson. can you guess who’s the Sheriff of Las Vegas by the end of the first episode? it’s good to see that Carrie-Anne Moss is slowly working her way back from Matrix-enduced shame, i’ve long rated her as an actor, and to my eyes she looks far better in a shift dress now than she did in leather trousers back then. while there is some crossover in terms of style, content or arc, Vegas definitely doesn’t have the requisite seriousness to be on par with Boardwalk Empire, or Mad Men, or Scorsese’s Casino, and after the pilot i can’t say whether it’s going to turn out to be worth watching at all, but i’d like it to be, so i’m in for at least the first three episodes. [CBS, Tuesdays, 10PM ET – or here]
• Revolution: J.J. Abrams has really taken the whole ‘EPing a TV series is the new directing a movie’ thing to heart, but should we trust him after Lost? well, Jon Favreau directs the pilot of this slightly odd post-technopalyptic sci-fi-a-rama and despite it being slightly infected with the dreaded expositionitus, and genuinely containing of the lines “It’s happening, isn’t it?!”, “Family? Kid, I don’t even know you!” and “You know, I didn’t ask you to come back”, i almost liked it. basically, one day, everything electronic and also (for some unexplained reason) engines stopped working and fifteen years later a fragile society is living hand-to-mouth in a part wild-west, part medieval Europe type scenario. this society is ruled by some sort of warlord and one family is keeping a very powerful secret from him and everyone else.
we’re supposed to be wondering about this small, silver USB drive/scarab necklace thing that might be the key to what happened to the tech, but i spent the whole time trying to work out how twenty somethings in a small isolated community could have perfectly fitting jeans, leather jackets and make-up so long after the end of all mechanised industry. that, and why, despite relying on basically the same physical principles, guns fire and oil lamps burn, but combustion engines don’t work. why fifteen years after it fell (hilariously unrealistically) from the sky, there’s a perfectly untouched plane sitting in the middle of a field, why, if you lived in a world where someone holding a crossbow sideways above their head can repel downward blows from a sword at close quarters, would you not do mostly stabbing motions in that situation instead, and why the goofy, multi-millionaire former Googledouche has brand-new-looking glasses. in fact, i was just beginning to think that, by failing to properly think through the implications of its starting premise, it had fallen into the same trap as 2009 mega-flop FlashForward, when Giancarlo Esposito (the fabulous Gus from the fabulous Breaking Bad) showed up. that, on its own, has bought it another episode.
• Last Resort: submarine, blaa blaa, Pakistan, missile strike, blaa, defying orders, fired on by own team, blaa blaa, T-1000 is an angry one, backup communication network, NATO early-warning station reminiscent of the control room from Jurassic Park on a remote island (always with the remote islands), local gangsters, blaa blaa, Washington, now shit’s got serious. etc. the pilot previewed weeks ago and i’ve been left with little inclination to seek out further episodes. [abc, Thursdays, 8PM ET – or here]
• Elementary: Jonny Lee Miller as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes living in Brooklyn with Lucy Liu’s Dr Joan Watson, what could be boring and or ridiculous about that? if it continues to be as bad as the pilot, i’m guessing that by episode 3, the only people watching will be Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ lawyers. i’m out. [CBS, Wednesdays, 10PM ET – or here]
• Arrow: this is one of the few Fall shows that will be broadcast in the UK this year, with Sky One having picked it up and due to put it out a month or so behind The CW from late Oct. it’s a teen-drama version of DC’s Green Arrow very much in the mould of Smallville, and i imagine it will strike the right sort of chords among its target demographic. i found the pilot pretty meh, but it’s very clearly not meant for me. [The CW, Wednesdays, 8PM ET]
• Go On: despite Friends and several terrible movies, i actually really like Matthew Perry and, as you know, thought his work in Studio 60 (his last significant TV role) was excellent. here he plays a widowed sportscaster who’s undertaking counselling. i’ve long thought that group therapy scenarios are ripe fodder for comedy, which is one of the reasons why, along with two friends, i’ve been working on a screenplay for a sitcom which is set in just such a context. who knows if we’ll ever actually produce anything polished, let alone do anything with it, but the constant risk, however, is that in the time that we’re dealing with our creative blocks something else comes along and occupies a similar space – a 30 Rock to our Studio 60 if you will. happily, while i sort of like Go On, i’m fairly sure it’s not treading on our toes too much. [NBC, Tuesday, 9PM ET – or here]
• three real stinkers
– Neighbors (abc): weak concept, poor acting, cheap gags. terrible.
– Partners (CBS): no, guy who was in Numb3rs and The Newsroom, just no.
– Ben and Kate (Fox): über-corny family sitcom. derivative and sloppily written.
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