Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: December 2010-January 2011

Watched very little over Christmas on terrestrial TV - thank goodness for DVDs and a backlog of recorded stuff - but made an exception for the revival of "UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS" (BBC1). I was a massive fan of the original during my childhood so it brought back some good memories to get back again to 165 Eaton Place, and in a nice touch Rose from the original series returned as housekeeper. And Newt from Hollyoaks even turned up as one of the 'downstairs' staff. Aww!

During my blog break I've had the opportunity to catch up on some movies.

As a child growing up in the 1970s, I remembered the names Baader-Meinhof always seemed to turn up on news bulletins, although I was too young to understand what it was all about. "THE BAADER MEINHOF COMPLEX" (Sky Movies) didn't really provide too many answers, apart from going down the obvious route of "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter". It was a good enough film, but a little disjointed and didn't really explain or give the back-stories on the main protagonists and their followers.

"UP IN THE AIR" (Sky Movies) was quite different from the usual modern film fare. It starred George Clooney as a man who spends his time going from one part of the country to the other, firing employees for other companies, only for him to find love and discover that no man is an island. Good film, although with a rather regretful ending.

"THE PROPOSAL" (Sky Movies) was a reasonable enough romcom, although it has to be said I'm no fan of that particular genre. It starred Sandra Bullock as a frozen-faced publishing executive being punted back to Canada because her visa was running out. Cue predictable green card scenario as she plans a fake marriage to her assistant. You can guess the rest. Yes I did say it was predictable, but it had some funny moments and wasn't too bad.

Matt Lucas also popped up in "ALICE IN WONDERLAND" (Sky Movies) which we weren't originally going to watch but had to check it out anyway. Two words: Johnny Depp. One of the things we love about Johnny - and there are many, many things we love about Johnny (!) - is that he's not afraid to take on movie projects which make him look totally ridiculous. Which, being the world's most beautiful man, is some achievement. The film itself was a colourful and reasonably accessible adventure, and better than we expected.

"GREY'S ANATOMY" (Living) is back for a seventh season, with its resident cast going through various stages of post-traumatic stress following the big dramatic shooting at the end of the last season. I won't give too much away for anyone except to say that one of the main characters got married...

"AWFULLY GOOD TV" (Channel 4) was, for once, a TV show which lived up to its title - where bad TV definitely made good TV, topped off with some devilishly deadpan voiceovers by David Walliams. A refreshing change from the usual clip shows with commentaries by Z-listers.

Although I usually make an exception for "THE MOST ANNOYING PEOPLE OF..." (BBC3) which is always an annual end-of-year must-see, thanks to its clever voiceovers by Richard Bacon and a slightly higher calibre of Z-listers offering their comments.

It was good to see Matt Lucas and David Walliams back on our screens. "COME FLY WITH ME" (BBC1) is a spoof of those old docusoaps "Airport" and "Airline". It's very funny, but lacking some of the more side-splitting moments of the heyday of "Little Britain", which was one of my favourite comedy series ever - but thankfully also lacking some of the more gross-out moments which eventually dragged that series down in its latter days. The high point of this new series remains the "Martin Clunes" song - they haven't topped that one yet. Series 1 has now ended, but the good news is that it's been recommissioned for a second series.

"THE SECRET MEDITERRANEAN WITH SIR TREVOR MCDONALD" (ITV) does what it says on the tin. The major surprise here being that there is finally something decent on ITV, and I never thought I'd see the day when those words would be uttered. So I guess we'd better make the most of it while we can. Basically it's Sir Trevor checking out some undiscovered stories from the countries which border the Mediterranean. It was a feast for the eyes and a very enjoyable series - I wonder if there will be more stories to tell?

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