Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: February 2011

Staying in is the new going out!

It's box set and retro telly mania at EuropeCrazy these days. I'm continuing to wallow in the emotional rollercoaster that is "ONE TREE HILL" and I'm now on season 6, having spent the best part of the last few months having watched the series from the very beginning. By this stage the main characters are now all grown up, but it still remains a very watchable and addictive (and hugely underrated) show. I've still to catch up with season 7, although I'm not sure how it would go with the absence of two major characters who've been a part of the show since the very beginning.

Talking of underrated shows, I reckon that "BOSTON LEGAL" was probably one of the best and most underrated shows of recent years. Stuck away over on Living, it never grabbed any of the headlines, but if you were lucky enough to be a regular viewer then you'll agree with me that it was consistently watchable, and James Spader and William Shatner are one of the best on-screen partnerships ever. Recently HMV had the complete series box set on special offer, which was good timing as I had some Christmas present money to spend so needless to say I bought it! Just finished season 1 which was great, but of course it got even better as the series went on.

Going further back in time with another box set which was inspired by a recent TV revival over Christmas - I refer to "UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS" and the original complete series which ran from 1971 to 1975 has now been reissued and repackaged. I remember being a big fan of the series even as a very young child so it's very nice to see it all over again, all these years later.

So we're watching all this old telly, but what's new?

Well there's Sky Atlantic, which launched with a big fanfare and critical acclaim, notably for its flagship series "BOARDWALK EMPIRE" - the saga set in Atlantic City during the Prohibition era. Its main character Nucky Thompson is a not-entirely-squeaky-clean politician (no change there then!) and there's lots of illegal activity going on all over the place. Martin Scorcese directed the first episode, and there's definitely a film-quality to it all. It's quality TV, no doubt about it, although I get a little bit mixed up from time to time about who all the characters are but then that's probably just my muddled mind :)

I started watching another new Sky Atlantic series, "BLUE BLOODS". No it's not about vampires and not to be confused with True Blood, but it's all about a family of police officers. It started off well enough, there's a good cast including Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg, however due to other stuff I've missed a couple of episodes lately so will need to get back on board.

The other good thing about Sky Atlantic is its repeats - some really good stuff in there including different series of the always wonderful "ER". Then there is the rerun of that long-lost 80s guilty pleasure = "THIRTYSOMETHING" sorry that should be "thirtysomething" which inspired all those ensemble dramas including "Cold Feet". It looks horribly dated and 'of its time', a decade which I hated for a number of reasons, but I loved that show all the same. At the time I was in love with Michael, and my favourite character was Melissa because she was so cool and unconventional. Ah, memories...!

Will modern TV stand the test of time? Will we look back at reruns of "GREY'S ANATOMY" in 20 years time and think....flippin' eck, that Meredith talks a load of pretentious garbage in those little voiceovers, doesn't she? I think the answer's yes to that one. Despite that though I remain a fervent viewer of this addictive and nonsensical drama. Cage off Ally McBeal (remember that?) is now in the cast and it'll be interesting to see what happens with his character. At least they don't spend so time with the Meredith/McDreamy on-again off-again back on-again saga now, which previously had me passing the McSickbucket.

Then there are TV fads, which inevitably crash and burn. It seems no time since "GLEE" arrived on our screens. It was a fresh and exciting TV format (well, for everyone too young to remember the kids from Fame) with a sharp and funny script. OK I could have done without the horrible, plastic, sanitised versions of songs which at one point threatened to take over the top 40. Fast forward to series 2 and what have you got? Unnecessary theme weeks, worse songs, stupid plotlines (that 'Grilled Cheesus' story was the worst thing I've seen on TV in years) and a little moral lesson learned every week. Then I learned there was going to be a Bieber week. Ugh. Only Sue Sylvester is stopping me reaching for the remote, and even she's not in it enough.

My favourite person on TV right now: Louie Spence. I. Love. Him. I only have to see him wave his arms around and I'm in stitches. "LOUIE SPENCE'S SHOWBUSINESS" is basically "PINEAPPLE DANCE STUDIOS" with added bits from (cue hilarious deadpan Michael Buerk voiceover) 'somewhere in the suburbs of showbiz land'. The terminally deluded all find a home in this fantastic show - notably series regular Andrew Stone who continues to seek world domination for his band Starman, and, um, former popstar David Van Day and his wife's attempt to regain past glories with their 'Rich and Famous' duo! Funniest moment of the series: dancing horse Black Lad's 'Fight For This Love' routine. It's car crash...but you know you want to:

Another piece of unmissable viewing is "FASHION POLICE" on E! Entertainment every week, with the magnificent Joan Rivers who tells it like it is, rating the fashions of the A-listers (and Z-listers, come to that). I guarantee that at least a couple of times every week you'll find yourself thinking: "Oh my God! I can't believe she just said that!" It's throwaway nonsense but sometimes that's all you need.

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