Monday, October 24, 2011

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: October 2011

If the rumours are to be believed, this could be the last series of "HARRY HILL'S TV BURP" (ITV1, Saturday). I suppose all good things should really come to an end, so maybe it would be the right time. So far, this series isn't really vintage Burp, but it's not a disaster either - maybe somewhere in the middle, on automatic pilot.

One of Harry's recent targets was "SHOWBOATERS" (Sky 1, Sundays) which was a must-see for me as over the past year I've developed an obsession with going on a cruise. Basically this is X Factor at sea, with a group of hopefuls are all fighting for one place in the Thomson Dream's show team. They missed a trick though, as the eliminations should have befitted the theme, i.e. man overboard/walk the plank :) Anyway it's pretty unmissable, if only for the reason that none of them were particularly good...the series is nearing its end so hopefully they'll make the right choice.

Whilst on the subject of cruises, I enjoyed the first part of "PAUL MERTON'S ADVENTURES" (Channel 5, Wednesdays) which saw him take to the Caribbean on the Allure of the Seas. It was a pleasant travelogue and pretty favourable about the ship itself. I'm looking forward to his forthcoming adventures.

I would never have called myself a Steps fan, although will admit to particularly liking a couple of their songs ("You'll Be Sorry" and "Deeper Shade Of Blue" to be specific). Anyway, body language/psychology experts would have had a field day if they watched "STEPS REUNION" (Sky Living, Wednesdays) an addictive fly on the wall documentary series,where the five members of the band were reunited, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. The tension was cranked up as the five members of the group confronted the issues which led to their split. Acrimonious didn't even begin to describe it. As we all know, H and Claire famously quit the group on the last night of their tour and the band announced their split on Boxing Day 10 years ago. Now they're back together, their new greatest hits compilation went straight to no.1 and their reunion tour is selling out. Although on the evidence of this TV show I wouldn't be too confident buying a ticket, as it couldn't be more obvious that Claire Richards doesn't want to be there. Or is this maybe fodder for a follow-up series - Steps Split II?

A few months ago I wrote about STV's decision to axe "THE HOUR" from its daily teatime slot. In September, the show relaunched in its new 8.00 pm Tuesday slot - which was a disastrous scheduling decision to begin with, since it clashed with the long-running Scottish soap River City on BBC1. Then they teamed up existing presenter Michelle McManus with sharp-witted radio presenter/journalist Tam Cowan, and the format completely changed from the easy-going teatime magazine with a lot of different features, to a bog standard low-budget chat show. 4 weeks into its run, STV axed the show for good.

After the axe fell, Tam Cowan let rip in his Daily Record column:

STV have no-one but themselves to blame. It wasn't perfect, but if the format had remained the same, and broadcast in a different slot, the show might have survived, instead of being consigned to the telly dustbin of history.

Ironically, STV's other Tuesday night programme has been must-see TV over recent weeks. "SCOTLAND'S GREATEST ALBUM" has featured a different decade each week, starting with the 70s, and the basic premise of the show is for the viewers to choose three tracks each week from the list of 12 pur forward by a panel of experts. It's been a pretty enjoyable and surprisingly credible journey so far.

OK we couldn't have a review at this time of year without mentioning "STRICTLY COME DANCING" (BBC1, Saturdays). As usual I start off every year with no favourites, but events conspire to make me change my mind, as in most cases I end up resenting the "chosen ones" (except last year, when Kara Tointon and Matt Baker totally deserved the praise). This year's recipients would appear to be adopted-national-treasure Jason Donovan, and the charisma-free zone that is Holly Valance. Here at EuropeCrazy HQ we are throwing our support behind the underrated Chelsee Healey and her professional partner, Stictly newbie Pasha Kovalev. The couple have been consistently good since the beginning, and Chelsee is a bubbly little firecracker who seems to be genuinely enjoying the experience. And of course it goes without saying that we're also supporting the always-wonderful Flavia Cacace, who's been teamed up with none other than the legend that is Russell Grant :)))

Russell was expected to be this year's John Sergeant/Anne Widdecombe, but the ultimate car-crash this year is Nancy Dell'Olio, whose fame is solely based on dating that Sven bloke. I never thought I'd ever say this, but poor Anton. Although I'm enjoying the show as usual, I'm getting a bit concerned about the number of 'theme weeks' being introduced, with all the accompanying silly props and costumes. As a result it feels like the show is moving away from the basic dances towards show-dances, and that's not a good thing.

Finding music on TV is so rare these days (apart from the dull and repetitive music channels) and finding intelligent discussion about it is even more rare. So three cheers for "THE JO WHILEY MUSIC SHOW" (Sky Arts). I enjoyed the first one, maybe a bit too much chat about Nirvana though. Anyway, thanks to this show, my mum has now become a Maverick Sabre fan!

Good old BBC Four never lets us down with its theme nights, and recently we had an evening devoted to Creation Records, the label founded by Alan McGee. "UPSIDE DOWN" was an absorbing feature-length documentary about the label's history and the bands signed to it. The most depressing thing about it was seeing my beloved Mark Gardener from Ride, who had wonderful floppy hair back in the day. Now he's hardly got any. :(

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