Posts Tagged ‘ TV ’

#telosvision: fall shows up

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.

returning shows

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]

new shows

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.

#tirednewsflash: midsomer whites dream

the makers of ITVone’s suddenly controversial, but not in an exciting way, crime ‘drama’ Midsomer Murders have hit back at their critics by meating their challenge heads-on.

following a recent interview with the new look RadioTimez in which producer True Brian-May ill-advisedly let slip about the show’s theirtoofour secret “white’s only” casting policy, there has been increasing heat on the programme’s production team and the commissioning executives at ITV to reverse the shame-and-white faced practice.

initially, there appeared to be an initial disinclination to sway in time with the music of popular opinion – exemplified by the bruskly toned and somewhat confused interview Midsomer’s lighting engineer, D’shawn-Leroy Freeman, gave to the TLS yesterday. “if we”, he argued, “wanted browns, moslems or ladygays in it, we would have them, but we just don’t”.

in the early hours of this morning, however, an announcement was made that has rocked the world of dull detective drama to its very soul. in a statement issued (quite deliberately) at 4:44am, series chief Inspector Eamon Cleverly revealed that:

In the interests of a more progressive casting policy, a better future for all children and in immediate and total reversal of our former policy, we have decided that in the episode currently under production – which will air in seventy nine days – the murder (a gritty street stabbing) and the series of brutal muggings and drug-related burglaries that lead up thereto, will be committed by a hooded, but undeniably black, character.

We hope that this move will once and for all end the rumours that Midsomer Murders or its production staff harbours racist prejudices or upholds any racial stereotypes.

In a skilfully crafted piece of plot development, of which we are very proud, a young man, who goes only by the name ‘Blap’, will arrive in Midsomer from one of Britain’s larger urban settlements in order to visit his aunt, Glenys Blap – a Midsomer resident since series 4. It is our hope and belief that this momentous episode will be one of the most dramatic and baffling yet.

while we admit that we have been, in the past, a little reluctant to bring the realities of modern Britain’s ethnic regions to our sleepy corner or middle-bit of the country, now that we’ve forged a new identity, we are very excited about the new possibilities that now lie ahead for the programme.

in addition to this dramatic and revolutionary token, ITV bosses have announced that a new honorary production assistant will be joining the Midsomer team, who despite not being black/moslem herself, is a girl and has apparently watched Bend It Like Beckham twice and most of The Wire.

#telosvision: friday night dinner

Friday Night Dinner has put the proverbial cat among the pigeons of my knowing what to think about things.

as the experts – Bill Oddie, Chwis Packham, Leona Lewis, Jonathan Dimbledor etc. – will tell you, unlike their real counterparts, proverbial cats are no match for pigeons, and, soon after being put among them, die from an excess of peck wounds.

the problem is that it is a new Channel 4th sitcom (or ‘sit-down comedy’, for long) written by Robert Popper and starring, among others, Mark Heap and Simon Bird. now, while that might not sound like a problem, but merely a description, it is a problem for reasons that are as follows:

Robert Popper and Mark Heap are in my eyes like some kinds of geniuses.

Popper ran Channel 4’s Comedy Lab, was, along with Peter Serafinowicz, responsible for Look Around You – one of my favourite ever comedy series – and has also produced, edited and written for hilarious things like Peep Show, South Park, The IT Crowd, Spaced and Black Books.

Mark Heap is one of my favourite comedy actors, who brought life to brilliant characters in Spaced, Green Wing, Skins and The Great Outdoors, as well as doing top-notch sketch and bit-part work in (the amazing) Big Train, Look Around You, Brass Eye, Jam and Miranda. weirdly, he was also in Lark Rise To Candleford.

still, though, you might be thinking, there doesn’t yet seem to be any sign of that problem that you clearly mentioned earlier. well, the problem is Simon Bird.

i can’t nobbing stand Simon Bird. i think it’s mainly his stupid, grinning face. but it’s also his ridiculous affected posh-nerd voice and his utterly annoying wanna-be clichéd-geek shtick. he’s really annoyed me in every role i’ve seen him in and also in the several interviews/appearances as himself that i’ve caught. in particular (as i’ve mentioned here before), and (disappointingly) to many people’s apparent surprise/disgust, i HATE The Inbetweeners. i hate it, i hate it. i know most of you disagree, but i think that (despite having some top people involved) it’s really poor.

the uncomplicated conceit of FND involves two twenty-something Jewish sons (straight away it’s a step in the right direction to see Bird’s playing someone who isn’t supposed to be 16) who go back to their parents’ house each Friday for tea. presumably to comic effect. like a Jewish cross between Butterflies and Open All Hours, without the shop or butterflies, and more Friday based.

so, there we go – Friday Night Dinner: will it be brilliant, or will it be too Birdish to bear? well, i’ll be watching with badger-bated breath, expectant, but also plagued by the knowledge that, at any minute, he might make me have a stroke out of annoyance.

> Friday Night Dinner starts Friday 25th Feb at 10pm on Channel 4

#showertune: ‘ophis le serpentaire’ by vincent geminiani

remember nostalgia?

boring, wasn’t it (like this overlong post)

given that i’ve come to the end of the project that had been keeping me from reflecting too much on the future, how old i was getting, or the fact that life was steadily moving on and becoming serious without me being ready, at the moment i’m coping with the terror of these realisations by means of romantic remembering.

as i’m sure you all know, nostalgia literally means home sickness [from the greek νόστος (homecoming) and ἂλγος (pain)], and was originally coined in the 17th century to describe what was thought to be a serious medical condition. the condition was also referred to as mal du pais or mal du Swisse, due to its apparent prevalence among Swiss mercenaries who (emotionally and physically) pined for their Alpine homes whilst fighting on the various lowlands of what are now Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

isn’t it interesting that as well as the fact that homesickness is no longer thought of as either serious or ‘medical’ (except perhaps in extreme cases, where it probably be counted as a symptom of wider mental illness), nostalgia has come to mean a wistful remembrance of/longing for the past? what was about place, has become about time.

despite the fact that my studies and understanding of history have (i hope) been usefully guided by the notion expressed in the famous opening line of The Go-Between by
L. P. Hartley – “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” – and that both ancient experience and modern physics point to intimate connections between time and space, i think something valuable might have been lost in the transition expressed by the shift in the colloquial meaning of nostalgia.

however globalised the world becomes, however easy travel and communication become, i don’t think, as humans, we can have story without also locatedness. as such, i feel it is not only necessary to talk about how great all the 60s/70s TV programmes that i used to love as a kid were (for it is these that have recently exercised my nostalgic juices), but also to speak about Edie and her house.

Edie was my next door neighbour growing up. She was a short, brash, thick-black-frame-spectacled, late-sexegenarian cockney, ensconced in our small, remote corner of West Cornwall. given her passion for London, she should have been more out of place, but she embraced the difference like a fish not only out of water, but sunbathing.

the porch that had been added onto the front of Edie’s otherwise-identical-to-ours house was filled with Mills and Boon books, piled high flat on their sides. she called everyone ‘babe’. before I was deemed old enough to have a house key, when my mum was at work, i used to go round to Edie’s after school. we didn’t talk that much, but when we did, i practiced charming her in the way i liked to do with adults.

her lounge was dominated by a thick, white-tassled rug which carried on its back a gilt-legged, glass-topped table with a scalloped edge. she sat in a high-backed green armchair, positioned so that it shielded the wooden TV cabinet from the afternoon sun. i sat to her left on the rug and placed my orange squash on the table, matching the fluting around the bottom of its glass tumbler to the curves that ran the table round. always.

we used to watch Countdown and 15 to 1 together, and then she’d put on children’s programmes for me and retire to the kitchen table to drink tea and smoke. despite the fact that it killed her Tom, smoking was Edie’s favourite hobby. that and cards. and erotic novels. sometimes we’d play cards – she taught me stud and draw poker, brag, cribbage, rummy, whist and even bridge and newmarket. some of the games we played properly, some of them she just explained to me because you can’t play them with two.

mum would usually get back mid-Blue Peter, but on some days she’d be late. at home, the once firm no-TV-during-meals rule had been relaxed in about 1990. the downside was that mum insisted on always watching Neighbours, then The Six O’Clock News, then Spotlight (shonky local news). as such, i liked the days when she was late – Edie didn’t care for the news and let me watch Thunderbirds while she smoked.

very occasionally mum would call Edie to say she was going to be unusually late, and ask whether she could make my tea. it was during one such occasion that it was suggested that at 6:30 we watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on BBC 2. i didn’t know what it was and had never ventured to watch it at home, but was immediately transfixed. Edie told me that she’d watched it when she first got a TV in the 60s, and that she liked the dark-haired one (Napoleon Solo played by Robert Vaughan). Edie was never really one for too many details – surprising, given the books she read.

once i’d been given reason, and courage, to watch one old programme that i didn’t know, i started to watch more, and it turned out that there was lots of 60s/70s TV that i loved: Mission Impossible, The Avengers, Ironside, The Prisoner, The Saint, Hawaii 5-0The Invisible Man, Batman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the list goes on and on. soon enough, i was videoing these programmes and watching them the next day instead of the kid’s crap.

when i was 11, my mum gave me a key so that i could let myself in when i got home from big school. i was pleased for the flexibility – i could get out of my uniform straight away for one thing – but i missed going round to Edie’s. sometimes i’d go anyway. that was fine with her.

one of the things i now realise about the TV programmes that i discovered because of Edie was that almost all of them contained the kind of music that i now love: Lalo Schiffrin, Quincy Jones, Morton Stevens, Jerry Goldsmith, Walter Scharf, Henry Mancini, Alan Moorhouse, Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker (all the Alans), Ron Grainer and many more gave these shows their edge by means of jangling brass, running baselines and rasping drums, often all at the command of deliciously strange time-signatures.

today’s #showertune doesn’t come from any of the programmes above, or any at all as far as i know, but it is beautifully evocative of precisely the right mood and sounds to me like bits of all their soundtracks blitzed in a blender and served over french ice.

as such, it’s dedicated to Edie Collins, who eventually moved back to the South East and is now probably dead.

it’s Orphis Le Serpentaire by Vincent Geminiani

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#inspiringquotations: number eight

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“You’d better bloodywell not be recording this. I might be hammered, but I can still kick your lights off”

>Mary Whitehouse

#showertune: ‘give me your love’ by the sisters love

Monday’s child is fair of face

so, if you were born today, congratulations, you can feed, sleep and cry safe in the knowledge that you most likely have a easier life ahead of you than the rest of us, and that even if you are properly, properly stupid, you will be able to find work, if nowhere else, in TV, presenting for Pricedrop.tv, QuizCall or ITV1.

speaking of which, wasn’t it great to see that couple captured by pirates and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi both go free? it made me feel good to be alive. a feeling which was washed thoroughly away shortly after when i foolishly broke my ‘never in this (pent)house’ rule and tuned in to watch Take That perform on The X Factor. here at RQT we’d all like to say a big “nob off Robbie, they were better without you”.

anyway, ever had a really bossy and insecure partner who is constantly demanding affection? well, today’s #showertune is a bit like what that might sound like – it’s Give Me Your Love by The Sisters Love

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#showertune: ‘e-pro’ by beck

happy day

so, one of the questions that has long puzzled humankind has finally been answered.

apparently, the death of Jack Duckworth – historically reenacted on last night’s Coronation Street – proves that not only is there an afterlife, but that the method by which humans are carried there is the good old omnibus.

that will please Americans, many of whom seem to think that going on the ‘bus is torture. apparently George Bush’s lawyer reckons it isn’t, but then, the CIA did once manage to foil a terror attack on Washington by threatening to force some captured terrorists to ride the afternoon cross-town.

today’s #showertune is a song that, like life, ends suddenly.

it’s E-Pro by Beck

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