Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: June 2014

OK so I know I said that I wouldn't be doing a TV review until the end of July, but I've been on holiday this week and had some spare time, so here's a quick look back at June's TV.

As I mentioned in the last Square-Eyed, a new TV channel has taken to the airwaves - STV Glasgow.  It's a local version of STV which is the Scottish version of ITV....anyway as you'd expect from local telly it's a bit low-budget.  Someone on Twitter, I think, referred to it as "two couches facing the Clyde" which kind of sums it up!

The channel's flagship evening show is "THE RIVERSIDE SHOW" - picture that legendary STV teatime show "The Hour" (in the days before The Chase) re-imagined by posh Glasgow university people.  The magazine format is a bit like "The One Show" - or in Glaswegian should that be "The Wan Show" (!) - and is best watched pre-recorded and on fast-forward, due to (a) too many ad breaks and (b) you can't please everyone all the time.  There are some occasional interesting features but my problem with it is that it's just too posh.  Come on STV Glasgow - give us more 'ordinary' people rather than what feels like a parade of ex-Glasgow Yoonie alumni, picked for their posh-ness.

I wanted to mention one unmissable programme which I'm addicted to on this new channel is a Polish-language drama, "CZAS HONORU" (Days of Honour) which is set in Warsaw during World War II, and looks at life under Nazi occupation from a Polish perspective - just weeks after "Generation War" did the same for the Germans.  It's gripping and highly addictive viewing, and of course it always helps when there are some not-entirely-unattractive cast members to enjoy ;) Anyway at the moment this is only being screened in the Glasgow area but I think it would be a very good idea if, say, ITV3 picked this up for transmission across the rest of the UK.  It's probably my favourite TV drama at the moment, and after every episode finishes I can't wait for the next one.

Which would probably make it a perfect candidate for that most Noughties thing, binge-watching.  Yes, why watch one programme when you can watch at least 7 episodes in a row.  Unfortunately my uninspiring attention span doesn't run to binge-watching.  Two episodes in a row is a major achievement for me.  So to get to almost three episodes in a row is record-breaking.  I managed that for the re-run of "BROADCHURCH" on another new channel, ITV Encore.  Broadchurch was one of the most talked about British dramas of last year, but me being me, I missed it.  My work colleagues raved on about it, and it was described in the British media as the closest thing to a Nordic drama.  So when it was finally repeated, I had to check it out.  It was certainly worth watching, but between you and me I still prefer my Nordics. 

Talking of which, I still haven't seen the final Swedish series of "WALLANDER" (BBC4) but it's been Sky Plussed and I'm ever hopeful that I'll finally get round to watching it before 2014 is out! :))

Now, I come from a generation which is old enough to remember a time when - wait for it - not every World Cup match was televised live on TV.  We have come a long way since then of course, as these days the TV channels make sure that we don't miss a minute of any game.  Yes, it's World Cup time in Brazil, with all the usual irritating commentators and pundits in place.  Unfortunately I haven't seen as many games as I'd have liked - but what I really would have appreciated, particularly during the group stages, would have been a highlights programme on TV at a decent hour.  Is that too much to ask?

It's just as well that the World Cup is all over our telly at the moment as there's really not much else, is there??  The big, massive, major problem with TV in this country at the moment is the alarming growth in the 'blame the poor' documentaries (hello Channel 5/Channel 4!) - "Big fat illegal immigrant gypsy mums of 13 on benefits and proud". What's happened to British TV's classic tradition of investigative documentary making?  Sadly dead and gone by the looks of it....

Something else which is losing its appeal is "CORONATION STREET" (ITV) which I have watched for virtually all my life.  Corrie was once renowned for its humour, now all we have are murders, affairs, and people shouting at each other in almost every scene.  Flippin' eck, I thought we'd walked into EastEnders.  Anyway, Tina was recently killed off of course, I'm a bit annoyed that we got to see the identity of the killer when a whodunit would have been so much interesting.  In real life, Michelle Keegan has quit the show for a life in Essex with "star of ITV2" Mark Wright.  Presumably she will now have more time to top up her tan.  Maybe the arrival of Les Dennis in the show might bring some much-needed comedy: if Steve McDonald is described as the best comedy character in the show, then that really says a lot about how much this show is in decline. 

Back to where we started - in Glasgow.  Based on its first episode, "I BELONG TO GLASGOW" (BBC1 Scotland)  is a winner.  Week 1 saw Chewin' The Fat's Karen Dunbar with her own take on her adopted home city, exploring everything from the gay scene to karaoke and the notorious Glasgow diet.  Looking forward to the remaining episodes.

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