Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Square-Eyed Couch Potato: March-May 2016

Over the past two months, I went on holiday, then it was straight into the pre-Eurovision season, reading everything there was to read, and listening to the numerous podcasts which have become such an important (if time-consuming) part of the annual Eurovision adventure. There's one more thing: I've discovered some radio shows which I never knew existed, so these have taken me away from the small screen as well.  But I still managed to catch the following TV shows...

The second series of the irresistible "EMPIRE" (E4) continues with the usual cross-and-double-cross in the Lyon family.  It's soapier than ever, and is most definitely a 2010s successor to Dallas, only substituting the music business and the bling for the oil and the ten gallon hats.  Larger-than-life characters, a cracking soundtrack (by Timbaland) and cliffhanger after cliffhanger.  I seem to be the only person I know who watches this show; I just wonder what its ratings are over here.  It deserves a massive audience.  Even if you're not into the hip-hop music at the show's heart, it's unmissable viewing, and a rarity these days: a TV drama where the main characters are not only black, but black and successful.

I haven't watched "THE BIGGEST LOSER" (Sky Living) in years, but as I've started a fitness regime I thought I'd watch this for some motivation.  One of the contestants in this particular series was none other than Ruben Studdard, who won American Idol back in the day when I still lapped up every talent show going.  Being an American show, as the pounds come of, the sentimentality piles on.  But for some reason I still enjoy it.

Over on this side of the pond, "LOSE WEIGHT FOR LOVE" (BBC1) takes a new approach to weight loss - separating overweight couples to encourage them to lose weight.  This show only began last week, but I feel that it could be a long runner, as it didn't just focus on the weight-loss stuff but also the underlying psychological issues and insecurities....for me, this was very close to home, and there was definitely something in my eye by the end of the first episode. 

I've just finished watching "THICKER THAN WATER" (More 4) a Swedish drama which started slowly but turned out to be very engaging indeed.  This was a very different kind of "Nordic Noir": a family saga beautifully filmed in the surroundings of the Ă…land Islands, where three siblings were made to stay together to run their late mother's guest house as a condition of their inheritance.  But they were to endure a number of troubles along the way.

Faithful travelling companion introduced me to the second series of "INDIAN SUMMERS" (Channel 4).  Now I missed the first series but quickly picked up on the characters and storylines.  This drama, set in the Raj in India in the years prior to independence, was very expensive to make, and certainly looked the part.  But it suffered from that modern TV curse - the ratings fall - but scheduled in that major ratings battleground of the Sunday night 9pm slot, then that was to be expected.  And who watches live TV these days anyway?  However, it could be argued that this show was killed by the critics, who continuously picked away at the plot lines.  So there's not going to be a third series, which is a shame as I was just getting into it.

It's May, which means that "CORONATION STREET" (ITV) will go into its annual big week of storylines, which also conveniently slots into the live week of Britain's Got Talent (flippin' eck, is that still going?).  This time we can expect the discovery of Callum's body, and the lead-up to Carla's departure from Weatherfield.  I will really miss Carla, my favourite Corrie character - I've loved Alison King since she was Lynda Block in "Dream Team" on Sky One.  Aah, "Dream Team" that was appointment-to-view TV!

I like cooking shows and I like travel shows, so when you combine the two then that's a must for the TV planner.  "PAUL HOLLYWOOD'S CITY BAKES" (Food Network) took the Bake Off judge to various locations, including Warsaw, Copenhagen and our most recent destination, Madrid (above) - and for a change, he was in more favourable mood and didn't need to criticise the cakes.

It's good to see "TONIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM" (ITV) back on our screens again. There's been a change since the last series: it's moved from Sunday night to Wednesday night and has one main host, rather than different guest hosts.  Good news: the main host is the wonderful Bradley Walsh, who is currently my favourite presenter on British TV.  He is so natural, funny and entertaining, and makes "The Chase" the best quiz show on our screens.  ITV being ITV though, they've got to fit in Peter Andre somewhere with a Palladium running gag.  And it's a good idea to record this and watch on fast-forward during the Joe Pasquale "release the squeak" segment.

I'll finish by fast-forwarding to a couple of delights still to come: a couple of re-booted blasts from the past.  Back in this blog's early days - 9 years ago, can you believe it! - I was a major fan of "Prison Break".  The other day, one of my friends at work showed me the trailer for the revived series which is due to air at the beginning of 2017.

The first two seasons were edge-of-seat stuff; but I'd hardly started season 3 and quickly decided that its best days were behind it.  However, I do have the complete series box set at home so am going to watch all four series before the re-boot (with most of the main cast members on board) reaches our screens....

Another old favourite of mine, "Gilmore Girls" is also coming back with a limited series of four feature-length episodes.  It will be screened at some point on Netflix.  Now I don't have Netflix.  But the thought of a Lorelei and Rory return means I might just have to sign up!

So, Eurovision is over (reviews to follow over the next couple of weeks) and we are now heading into the summer months, so that will be a good opportunity for me to finally catch up on some of my massive TV backlog.  And then we have Euro 2016 and the Tour de France, and the Olympics, and the Vuelta, and ......oh well, I'll have plenty to watch!  Square-Eyed will be back at the end of July.

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