Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Easter Bank Holiday Weekend TV (14-17/4/06)

Was it just me or was it a bit of a poor show this weekend? Lucky it was sunny or I'd have got well eggy. Apart from the funniest My Name Is Earl yet - I've been wondering when he might get a girl - which was just so wonderfully funny it almost made me emote, and a fascinating programme on BBC2 about famous Easter paintings called The Private Life of a Masterpiece, I struggled to be entertained, and that simply isn't fair on a bank holiday. In the spirit of familial conviviality we watched My Family and Other Animals on ITV2 on Sunday, a comedy-drama which pretty much defines gentle humour. But look, LOOK! Look at my pick of Easter TV. It's so boring I think I might just expire on the spot. And HOW many times has Match of the Day been on over the last four days? And where was the C4 countdown show which could have eaten up four hours of my time - 100 Greatest Easter Cock-Ups, number one being the crucifixion of Our Lord Jesus Christ himself? Mind you, I suppose if He hadn't died for our sins, we wouldn't be able to shove chocolate in our mouths. I may as well just do a review of my Easter eggs:-
Lindt - bloomin' yummy, particularly the nest of Lindt mini-eggs on which the major egg rested. Not strictly my egg, brought it for fella, but delicious nevertheless.
Cadbury's Buttons - Ah! Buttons. A staple foodstuff since childhood. Found myself emptying the entire transparent packet of buttons directly into my gob at about 12.43 this morning.
Flake Moments - an upgrade of the humble Flake, this confectionary product mimics the form of a box of chocolates, adding dark chocolate coatings and white chocolate sprinkles to the basic crumbly, milky chocolate foundation. My favourite was the nutty milk chocolate covered Flake. While Flake Moments do not fall under the standard remit of Easter eggs, they proved crucial to the relentless chocolate-eating marathon which has been taking place over the last three days.
Verdict - Salad.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Monday Night's TV (10/05/06)

I know I'm probably one of only 132 people who watch the show, but it was the final of America's Next Top Model on Living TV last night. I know it was on Living TV because its difficult to forget when there's a massive logo screaming the channel brand and hampering your enjoyment of whichever programmes you happen to be watching on it. I'm the sort of person who skips to the end of a riveting book just to see what happens and then rues that I've spoilt the ending, so it has taken all my self-control not to type "winner + america's next top model + season 5" into Google over the previous weeks. Nicole winning was therefore a double surprise, not only because I didn't know beforehand, but also because I thought the nice girls won that show, not the objectionable, moody, immature, bitchy-faced ones. Nicole's competition was Nic, her sort of inverse twin. Where Nicole's face was English rose, Nic's was palpable with an exotic, sensual beauty. While Nicole's body was a teenage beanpole, Nic's had womanly curves. Nic was, in fact, so striking, and so beautiful, that she's been my dead cert from week one. The only thing she lacked was a discernible personality, and a modicum of self-confidence. To Tyra et al's credit they did give her plenty of opportunity to develop some charisma, but it turned out that she was, after all, just a pretty face. Nicole, on the other hand, had the sort of chasm between her external appearance and internal character which is actually quite unsettling. You couldn't get a more innocent, coochy-mouthed, creamy-skinned, fawn-eyed beauty if you tried, yet you knew, you just KNEW, that the girl's going to be a SUPERcow by the time she hits her twenties. Even before the final runway challenge you could see something change in her attitude towards her competitor, suddenly becoming all, "Yeah, right whatever, Nic." Perhaps a character like Nicole is more suitable for the world of fashion than a Nic though. Previous winners of ANTM haven't exactly lit the industry on fire, but the favourite for most successful has to be the appropriately-named Eva the Diva. Maybe the tough, self-assured cookies are the best ones to plump for - its not a Fulbright scholarship, after all, it's a dog-eat-dog world. I'm really going to miss it. In the same way that The X-factor looks like bad karaoke compared to American Idol, ANTM makes our British version look like a wet T-shirt competition in Butlins. Only on the BNTM can someone slag off a fellow competitor to their face for having "saggy tits", to the retort, "I work damn hard on my tits! These aren't saggy, these are NOT saggy!" Oh, lets face it, the NTM shows are objectifying and morally reprehensible forms of television. But I love them. Bring on season 6!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tuesday Night's TV (4/3/06)

I always thought that the programmes issuing from the stable of Baby Cow Productions didn't quite live up to the comic standard set by their founder, Steve Coogan, in The Day Today and I'm Alan Partridge. Ok, so a smile played over my lips during Marian and Geoff, The Mighty Boosh still doesn't really tickle my funny bone although I know plenty of people for whom it does, and the outtakes of Nighty Night are probably more amusing than the programme itself in my opinion. Lots of Baby Cow programmes specialise in comedically uncomfortable territory, the divorced cab driver ostracised from his kids (Marion and Geoff); the murderous, morally bankrupt, self-centred slutbag (Nighty Night); a whole host of educationally subnormal or sexually deviant misfits (Human Remains). Attempting to get laughs out of these excruciating social types didn't wash with me. It's not that it's beyond me, it just isn't funny to me. And I am a fully-fledged graduate of the school of Brasseye, the progenitor of this kind of show and one which I watched originally in the mid-nineties as a mid-teen teenager.

But Baby Cow's Ideal (BBC3 - I know) has been slowly going up in my estimation until yesterday, when it struck me that it really is a challenging, and dark, and unique, as well as very, very funny programme. During last night's episode, my uncomfortable laugh was also a genuine one during the most hilarious conversation about necrophilia that has ever been scripted (The necrophiliac's rationale? "Normal sex disgusts me"). Anyone who read my blog about the drug dealer I knew who appeared on Trisha and recognised their own experiences in it, will know that I was talking about those people who have no intention of ever contributing more to society beyond making sure that everyone who wants it is sorted for skunk. There are loads of them, and they do not fit the media portrayal of dangerous individuals hanging outside schoolgates; they are mums, and people on the dole, and utterly harmless. Ideal depicts just such a character - a stoner who deals to chavs and trustafarians alike - the sort of person whom society renders invisible, but who holds a crucial place in many of its members' lives. That's one reason why this programme should have been made. Laughter is derived partly from recognition, and I recognise the Vegas character. But it's the writing on top of this which makes Ideal pretty special. I repeat, they made necrophilia comic. And not in a Jam way, not in an involuntarily-emitting-startled-barks-as-you-squirm-on-the-sofa way (I'm thinking of the plumber who fixes the dead baby). Actually, truly, really funny. To me anyway. In fact, its the only comedy I rate on TV at the moment. Honestly, whatever your feelings about Vegas, I suggest giving it a go.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Last weekend's TV (31 Mar-2 Apr)

I wasn't the biggest fan of the first series of Green Wing, but people I highly respected insisted that it was good so I watched the opening episode of the second series on Friday night with bright, untarnished eyes. It was still rubbish. Not thoroughly rubbish, but, at best, hit-and-miss. With differences in performance styles, down to the fact that the actors have been cast due to their popularity in other well known series (loved by me too- Brasseye, Black Books, The Book Club, etc), it doesn't hang together. Plus it combines the deathly and darkly sexual themes of Jam, with the extreme silliness of a bad sketch show like Smack the Pony, under the aegis of character-driven comedy, ending up only very occasionally funny. Sorry, honoured friends, but I disagree with you on this one. Watch My Name is Earl instead.
Noel Edmonds got my goat so much on Parkinson on Saturday that I thought I might have to give up Deal or No Deal in protest. He was such an arrogant, pompous twat, I almost punched the telly in frustration. How that man reveres himself, blaming others for his absence from our screens. Like Alan Partridge incarnate. I decided not to take it out on DOND though, resolving instead, should I ever bump into him, to set fire to his beard.

So, a bit disappointing this weekend, particularly without American Dad and Family Guy last night. Some embarrassed amusement was had at Strictly Dance Fever, but even that started to pall after a while. If I'd wanted to watch bad dancing, I'd have actually gone out to some sort of bar and waited till closing time. Or had someone film me on my phone in said bar at closing time. Maybe the whole audition phase of dance and singing competitions, usually my favourite part, is getting to me. To the suprise of my invisible double, I turned over the cavortings of the deluded, wondering whether this was all becoming a bit boring and like laughing at the handicapped. Perhaps it's just the BBC's appropriation of Endemol-style formats which feels bady judged. What a great move by the government to renew the licence fee as long as the Beeb keeps on producing "more entertaining" programming - or, to put it another way, "less critical of New Labour" programming. I can just imagine Tony and Tessa snuggling up in front of Just the Two of Us and Davina.