Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: October 2008

Whatever else is on telly, all that matters is that "Harry Hill’s TV Burp" (ITV, Saturdays) is back on our screens for an extended run for the next 6 months. Shock horror, there has been some criticism on the Digital Spy forums that Harry is now playing it safe with familiar old targets - Jamie Oliver/food shows, The Bill, Eastenders - but he is sooo funny at what he does that he can do it until the end of time as far as I’m concerned. "Bring On The Wall"!!

A little while ago I contemplated abandoning "Coronation Street" around the time of Michelle’s swapped-babies storyline and the over-reliance on the Platts, but what a change over the last couple of months. Now it’s unmissable again, mostly thanks to the new super-villain Tony Gordon, who’s the best super-villain since Richard Hillman. Two weeks ago it was "Murder Week" which ended with the hit-and-run killing of Liam Connor during Tony’s stag night. Tony engineered his soon-to-be brother-in-law’s killing of course, and it will be interesting to see how long he gets away with it. This has been quickly followed by the Rosie Webster abduction storyline.

"Corry" wasn’t the only soap with a big dramatic storyline a couple of weeks ago: "Hollyoaks" ended its long-running storyline of Myra McQueen’s abandoned son Niall taking his revenge on the McQueen family. It ended in explosive fashion with Niall abducting his mother, sisters and brothers, taking them to an old church and blowing it up. Remarkably, everyone emerged with the regulation soap-scratches on their face but little other signs of injury. Apart from Tina, who (thankfully) perished. "Hollyoaks" has been in great form over the past year but I wonder if it may now go into a post-big-story slump, the way "Corry" did after the Richard Hillman story?

I’ve never been a fan of the quiz shows attached to the Saturday night lottery draw on BBC-1, but "Who Dares Wins" (BBC1, Saturdays) is an exception. I like Nick Knowles (many don’t) and this is a proper quiz show, not one of those tedious Poker Face/Golden Balls ‘what are they thinking’ strategy shows which have been all over the TV in recent years.

Griff Rhys Jones went down the Michael Palin route with "Greatest Cities Of The World" (ITV, Wednesdays), a three week travelogue in New York, London, and Paris. Sadly, as many of these shows are, it was a wasted opportunity and my patience was finally exhausted when he spent about 15 minutes of the Paris show in secret underground passageways.

Much more quality viewing is "Stephen Fry’s America" (BBC-1, Sundays) with the intelligent presenter making his way across the USA by London taxi. It’s not really telling us anything new either, but it’s beautifully filmed and is a nice way to pass an hour.

My most favourite show of the moment is an old one - "Gilmore Girls" (E-4, Saturday omnibus) which I got into after reading many positive comments about it on the internet. I started watching at season 4 and now I want to get the boxed sets from the early seasons. It’s just a simple, warm and funny show with amazingly sharp scriptwriting and good acting. At the heart of the show is the warm relationship between the girls - mother Lorelai and daughter Rory, who are not just mother and daughter but also best friends. I can definitely relate to this as it reminds me of my relationship with my own mother.

I totally missed season 2 of "Heroes" (BBC-2/BBC-3, Wednesdays) but the new season 3 continues to be very watchable and addictive, even though half the time I can’t really understand what’s going on. All those personality changes - Sylar trying to be a goodie?? - are a bit bizarre, but are central to the plot which is beginning to develop.

If the shark was circling around "Grey’s Anatomy" (Living, Thursdays) at times during season 3, it’s now swimming off in the opposite direction. I’m really enjoying this series: the scriptwriting is much better and the whole thing is just sparkling again. As long as they don’t go back down the Meredith-angst route it should be fine.

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