Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: May 2010

Bit of a surprise that I actually managed to watch any TV last month, between blogging commitments, ropey health and the small matter of a holiday...anyway here goes.

I always enjoy music documentaries so have been watching "I’M IN A ROCK N’ROLL BAND" (BBC2, Saturdays). Narrated by the ever-wonderful Mark Radcliffe, it doesn’t particularly tell us anything we didn’t know already about being in a band, but it’s still been ok for Saturday night viewing. It’s the usual format of music clips and talking heads, but thankfully this time the Z-list comedians were kept to a minimum. I deliberately missed the final show, which was one of those "who's your favourite" poll-type things...zzz.

During the 1980s, my favourite band of all time (New Order) were renowned for never giving interviews: enigmatic but frustrating. Fast forward to 2010 and you can’t get away from them! Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner and Steven Morris have all turned up in the aforementioned BBC2 documentary, but that’s not all: Bernard recently made an appearance in "SONGBOOK" (Sky Arts). (Confession time here: I very rarely watch Sky Arts, but really should watch it more often). Anyway this was very interesting for fans of all of Bernard’s past musical adventures as he spoke about Joy Division, New Order and Electronic and played a few acoustic versions of old songs with a couple of bandmates from his new venture Bad Lieutenant. Good stuff.

Still enjoying "WALLANDER" (BBC4 Saturdays/Thursdays). I’ve reccorded the last few episodes and still working my way through the backlog. It took me a little while to get used to the programme without Stefan and Linda being there, but it’s still such a top quality show. The Swedish version is a million times better than its British remake: it doesn’t have to spend half the show focusing on angsty close-ups of its lead character. Whilst it’s still Wallander’s show, the other minor characters have an important part to play, although I’d like to see trainee cop Pontus getting some more screen time. For completely shallow reasons :)))

Recently BBC2 had a brief 80s season, which featured the always entertaining ‘Grumpy Old Men’ format tweaked into "THE GRUMPY GUIDE TO THE 80s" which again relied on the talking heads, aiming at very easy and obvious targets, but it was still quite funny.

The centrepiece of this BBC2 season was a new drama "WORRIED ABOUT THE BOY", screened on 16.05.10, and focusing on the early life of Boy George, before he was famous, intercut with scenes from when it all went wrong. This should have been a two or three part series, as it ended just at the point when "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" became their first hit single. The guy in the lead role was very good indeed, and the soundtrack was a total belter. How many years since you’ve heard Soft Cell’s "Memorabilia"??

The "GLEE" (E4, Mondays) juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down, and what was once an inventive and original format is now beginning to become rather predictable, and I’m still tired of all those songs going into the chart every week (even if they’re in the lower reaches of the chart). Sue Sylvester is one of the greatest TV characters of recent times though - bitter and bitchy and fabulous! The show wouldn’t be half as good without her in it. And that's how Laura sees it.

The old saying goes that youth is wasted on the young, but in the case of "JUNIOR APPRENTICE" (BBC1, Wednesdays) it would appear that this particular bunch of young people have skipped youth completely and gone right into the adult world of dog-eat-dog entrepreneurs. Regardless of the contestants’ ages it still remains one of the best TV formats and, IMHO, has never gone stale. Of course we can’t call him ‘Siralan’ anymore as he is now Lord Sugar!!! It finishes this week, I'm not bothered who wins, just as long as it's not hyper-confident Zoe ...and as for 17 year old Tim Ankers (insert Harry Hill sideways-glance here) no-one should have that much facial hair at that age.

TV continues to offer variations on the hugely successful "Come Dine With Me" format. We like "THREE IN A BED" (Channel 4, Wednesdays) which despite the title isn't that kind of programme, but sees three B&B owners host each other and each guest is then asked to pay for what they think their stay was worth. It’s quite fresh and we can see it running for a while, although you can bet that the personalities of the hoteliers will get more extreme and contrasting as time goes on. Hope we get another series.

Couple of films now: We spent a lot of time screaming at a new(ish) horror film on Sky Movies: "DRAG ME TO HELL". The only problem was that we were screaming with laughter. Plot:young woman working in a bank refuses further financial assistance to an old gypsy woman who puts a curse on her, blah blah blah. It was ok though, as modern horror films go, but none of these modern efforts seem to have the tension that a truly great horror film needs.

I was quite disappointed with "THE BOAT THAT ROCKED" (Sky Movies). I’ve always had a great interest in the pirate stations of the 1960s, so I looked forward to seeing this film which focused on "Radio Rock", a fictional station clearly based on Radio Caroline/Radio London. Although its attention to detail had been well thought out, the main problem was that for a film billed as a comedy, it wasn’t actually that funny and would have been better as a straightforward drama. At times it also relied a little too much on smut to get laughs, which is never a good thing. Good soundtrack though, that was the best thing about this film.

Decided to watch "LAKEVIEW TERRACE" (Sky Movies) as its plot reminded me just a little of "Unlawful Entry", one of our favourite films of recent years. Samuel L Jackson was great as the racist cop who went to all lengths to make life very difficult for the young mixed-race couple who moved in next door. It maybe got a little silly towards the end (as most modern films seem to be) but it’s one of the best films I’ve seen recently.

It didn’t get too many good reviews but we also enjoyed "RIGHTEOUS KILL" (Sky Movies) which paired two of our all-time favourite actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in the leading roles. They may be old now but they can still act most of their modern counterparts off the screen. A serial killer film with a plot twist at the end. Dark but good film.

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