Monday, September 12, 2011

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: August 2011

Two weeks late, but it's here anyway...

BBC Four had a 'foreign pop' themed night, the centrepiece being "Anyone For Demis?" an entertaining enough documentary about foreign/foreign-language songs and artists who broke through into the British consciousness, although it maybe spent a bit too much time on the post-war years and had a very limited focus on the modern pop era. During the programme, someone made a comment that there are no big Europop hits breaking through anymore, "because there's no room for them". Which I found a bit sad really.

The documentary was followed by "Exotic Pop At The BBC" (BBC Four) which featured most of the music from the documentary - and our highlight was "Rock Me Amadeus" by Falco!!

The critics may have branded it exploitative, yet I don't feel so guilty about enjoying "Seven Dwarves" (Channel 4) because (a) it lets the seven little actors appearing in Woking's panto speak for themselves; and (b) no-one made them do it. Each weekly programme focuses on a different member of the gang, all of whom have an interesting story to tell.

Back to BBC Four now, which had yet another theme night - this time focusing on one of the best singer-songwriters of the 1970s, Gilbert O'Sullivan, who has been overlooked when the history of pop has been written. In the documentary "Gilbert O'Sullivan - Out on His Own" you got the feeling that he felt a little cheated, that he should have had more success than he did. He still wants success, but seems quietly defiant that this should be on his own terms. The closing scenes of him playing to a packed house suggests that there's still a lot of love out there for his music.

Another legendary singer-songwriter who achieved massive 70s success, Gerry Rafferty, was fondly remembered in the documentary "Right Down The Line" (BBC Scotland). Gerry sadly passed away at the beginning of 2011. Despite enjoying massive success with the classic "Baker Street" (from the brillliant "City to City" album which I still love) Gerry found all aspects of fame uncomfortable, even performing live, and concentrated on being a creative musician right up till the end.

Unfortunately we are into "X Factor" season which is already dominating Saturday nights on ITV. We'll have to wait till the end of September/beginning of October till "Strictly Come Dancing" arrives on our screens. If I can be bothered, I'll do weekly write-ups of SCD then. But only if I can be bothered of course. (Last weekend there was a launch show, which introduced the usual mix of ex soap stars, chat show hosts, ex pop stars and sportsmen to their professional partners).

Anyway back to the entertainment drought which is Saturday nights on ITV. Recently however we broke our boycott to watch "A Night With Will Young" which was basically an hour-long commercial for his new album and a celebration of his (almost) 10 years since winning Pop Idol. Nothing wrong with that: we're not ashamed to say it, we're Will fans here at EuropeCrazy HQ, although he has come a long way since those early days and is probably the best solo artist from this country to come out of any of these talent shows. Although Chico will probably disagree ;)

I didn't see Forbrydelsen, the original Danish-language version of "The Killing" (Channel 4) so can't compare it to the US remake - however it's now being repeated on BBC Four and ends this week. Ive been recording it and will catch up eventually...Anyway back to the American version. Critics may not love it, but I've been well impressed and have consistently watched it week after week, although with two episodes to go I understand that all the unanswered questions won't be answered at the end of the season??? Loving Holder (Joel Kinnaman) though. He should get his own spin-off show.

It's not on TV at the moment in this country, but I thought I'd mention Season 1 of "Damages" from a few years back. I borrowed it from from faithful travelling companion and have been watching over recent weeks. As with "The Killing" it's one of those shows which piles on the red herrings, keeps the tension coming and always leaves you wanting more. It's also quite a demanding show thanks to the flashbacks/flash-forwards, which along with the double -crossing are a necessary part of what makes this show so special. I wonder if season 4 will ever be shown in the UK?


Raquelita said...

Only saw the first episode of Forbrydelsen and I wasn't that excited by what I saw.Although I have heard many a time that it's a pretty slow-starting series so I should have given it a chance really.I steer clear of all American TV,but I reckon their version is probably more exciting.It's always quite heartwarming to see a foreign programme doing well over here though!

Haven't heard Rock Me Amadeus for far too long *rushes over to youtube*.

Laura (EuropeCrazy) said...

I think it's one of those shows which is a bit more demanding than most of the trashy telly we're subjected to these days. I've recorded all the episodes from BBC Four but only started watching Forbrydelsen so it will probably be a while before I get to the end of that series. The American version is very good, and manages to recapture that Nordic bleakness perfectly - it's not the best advert for the Seattle tourist board though :)

Ah yes, you can never have enough Falco!