Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: April-June 2012
Ricky Martin won "The Apprentice"! Sound the horn and play *Livin' La Vida Loca*!! Has our Latino idol fallen on such hard times that he's got to beg Lordsugar for £250,000? Nope. Wrong one. This one was a wrestling businessman with an ethical recruitment agency idea (the words 'ethical' and 'recruitment agency' just scream 'huge contradiction' don't they!), which apparently impressed the Lord more than Nick Holzherr's online recipes/Jade Nash's cold calling/Tasty Tom Gearing (above)'s wine hedge fund. Never mind the business plans, we'll just hire Tasty Tom anyway.
It appears that "Smash" (Sky Atlantic) has taken a bit of a critical hammering on the internet, yet for some reason I'm addicted to it. It may have been described as Glee-for-grown-ups I prefer this much more. The plot is a very simple one - the development of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. It does admittedly have many flaws - Jack Davenport phones in his usual drawling-baddie performance first seen as Miles in"This Life"; Katharine McPhee proves that there is life after American Idol, although I still feel that her character needs development; they could have done something more interesting with Debra Messing's character than turn her into a whimpering mess. Yet in spite of all that I'm sticking with it.
The latest in BBC4's always excellent 'Britannia' series was up to the usual standard. "Punk Britannia" did what it said on the tin: the story of punk, before, during and after. It brought back some fond memories; even though I was too young to embrace the lifestyle, I certainly enjoyed the music and agreed with the sentiment - and as a fan of 'indie' music in the 1980s and beyond you can't deny the long-term effects which that musical revolution had on the music business thanks to the 'do it yourself' attitude. What really boosts the credibility of this series is that rather than call upon the usual list-show talking heads who probably weren't even born at the time, it featured those who were actually there.
"God Save The Queens" (Sky Atlantic) was yet another voiceover/talking heads clip show, but with a nice twist - it saluted the influence of gay performers in showbiz over the years.
Do you hear something? If you do, it's probably the sound of a barrel being scraped. I refer to "Battle of the Brides" (Sky Living) which takes the wedding-contest format to extremes. Two competing brides with very different wedding themes have to plan an identical wedding. Yep, it's that ridiculous, and it's all too 'scripted-reality' with scowling and tears in all the right places. And I switched off before the end.
Unlike "Four Weddings US" which continues to run on Sky Living and is our guiltiest of guilty pleasures. It's lightweight fluff, with four brides marking each others' weddings Come Dine With Me-style.
The reality makeover shows just keep on coming, and along came another series of "The Restaurant Inspector" (Channel 5) where Fernando Peire goes and does his Gordon Ramsay-type restaurant makeover thing (minus the swearing and gesturing of course). There's always a predictable outcome - either change the furniture, change the name, change the menu or a mix of all three. For that reason it's probably getting a bit tired now.
I had the hankies at the ready as "One Tree Hill" (E4) recently came to an end after 9 seasons. So what made this teens-into-twenties drama so special, I hear you ask - especially as I'm a long, long way from the show's demographic? For me, it stood out from all the others because it had a heart, warmth, and characters whom you actually cared about, whether you loved them or hated them. Even though the last couple of seasons weren't really up to the standard of the earlier ones, it was still must-see viewing. Given the worldwide audience of this blog I won't spoil the ending as some of you may not have seen the final season, but suffice to say that a lot of loose ends were tied up. Oh, and one more thing - after that finale, Gavin DeGraw's "I Don't Want To Be" reappeared in the UK top 30! I've now gone back to the beginning and am rewatching season 1 :)
"Steps On The Road Again" (Sky Living) continued the fly-on-the-wall format of last year's "Steps Reunion" - basically, Steps went on a UK arena tour and there was THE DRAMA! The dramatic voiceovers! The recaps! The anguished close-up camera angles!
Season 1 of "Homeland" (Channel 4) started well, lost its way a bit, then regained its brilliance to become one of the most gripping first seasons of US drama since "24" or "Heroes". Strong performances from all concerned: even if Claire Danes annoyed me on a regular basis, by the end of it all you couldn't help but sympathise with poor Carrie! There is going to be a season 2: we can only hope that it maintains that edge-of-the-seat standard and doesn't get too silly as it goes on. Like 24 or Heroes....
Another one of my favourite US series, "Grey's Anatomy" (Sky Living) recently came to the end of its 8th season. Am I the only one who feels that as a season finale, this was truly a shark-jumping of the highest order? Plane full of doctors crashes into a forest, Lost-style. One character dies. Back at Seattle Grace Mercy West, one doctor gets fired. Meanwhile back in the forest, time's getting on, the credits roll and there's no-one there to save them. Who will survive? Presumably the one (or two) who don't agree with their new season contracts, or 'want to go off and do something different'. Or maybe, just after the credits roll, a plane/helicopter will come into view to rescue all of them to safety :)