Monday, 26 September 2016

Week in Telly 4

Tuesday
I got back from holiday in the afternoon and sat down to catch up on the previous week's telly.

The Great British Bake Off
Batter week. A tough week for many bakers and it made me realise it has been a criminally long time since I've had a Yorkshire pudding. Don't think my mother has ever made them from scratch either. These bakers were despairing over some of their Yorkshires and they looked just like the Aunt Bessies I'm used to so think this will have to change. Also, the person who said they have them on Christmas Day?! Thought this was an absurd suggestion at first but then came round to it and will put it forward to the family come December. As well as leftover turkey stuffing sandwiches I think I'd quite like filled Yorkshires for boxing day this year.

Coronation Street Omnibus
I'm about a fortnight behind on Corrie but enjoyed this omnibus so much I forgot I'd put it on to drop off to sleep to because I was shattered. Nick confronted Steve about Leanne's baby, driving into the middle of nowhere. I really liked the scenes between the two of them here as they are two characters that normally have no reason to talk to each other. Steve is one of my favourite Corrie characters and I really felt for him. Nick's head is all over the place though as one minute he's livid, the next he's ok with things and whisks Leanne off to Tenerife. Meanwhile David stepped in to help sort out Bethany's school bully by chopping off the girl's hair. Cheers all round. After the revelation that Craig's dad is in prison I predict he will soon get out and become a regular character eventually as Craig now wants to meet him.

The Saint - The Saint See It Through
First, the title! It is definitely a book title. No one would ever have given a television episode this title. Second, I like watching episodes in order. There aren't many shows for which I will just pick out a random episode to watch. Oh no - if I fancy watching a show I will watch it in order. I have many box sets I am gradually working my way through. I may watch an episode from one say once a fortnight but it will be from where I left off. Most of these programmes do not need to be watched in order as there is little continuing storyline if any at all. But...but... why wouldn't I? I keep my films in alphabetical order, I keep my television programmes in chronological order. I like order. Thoroughly shattered after getting back from Hamburg, before bed I fancied winding down with The Saint. I'd been working through my colour box set but on Tuesday decided to take out my black and white one. Yet it had been so long since I'd last watched any of it that I couldn't remember where I'd left it off! So I did something absurd and, yeah I picked an episode out of order. A TOTALLY RANDOM EPISODE. Within five minutes Simon Templar had flown to...Hamburg. Of course. His hotel room was bigger than mine, he probably had someone carry his bags when he left, he probably didn't get woken up by drunks outside despite being on the fifth floor but I tell you what, he probably didn't get two mini bags of Haribo on his pillows every day. The Saint goes to Hamburg at the request of an American friend who is investigating miniature art pieces getting smuggled into the US by sailors. Simon quickly looks up an old girlfriend and it is her employers who are at the centre of it.
This was a great episode. I forgot how much I missed Roger Moore breaking the fourth wall to speak to us at the start of each episode. We also get the wonderful Joseph Fürst as one of the baddies because I've yet to see him play one of the good guys. I liked that there seemed to be a much better plot compared to the colour episodes I'd last been watching. The plot actually exists as opposed to being there just to link us between fight scenes and smooching. I enjoyed my return to black and white Simon Templar so much that I spent more time with him later in the week.

Wednesday-Thursday
Coronation Street Omnibus
Yeah so I may have got a bit drawn into Weatherfield's drama this week. A highlight was Craig going to see his dad, who showed his true colours early on when he asked Craig to sneak him in a bit of weed on his next visit. Craig, who would later get off his face on only four pints, told his dad to get stuffed.

Wednesday
An Extra Slice
This was sheer background telly this week and I didn't pay enough attention to remember much of it.

The Saint - The Ever Loving Spouse
The Saint was in the US, staying in the same hotel as a candy company's annual convention. He finds himself helping out a man who is being framed for an affair. What starts off relatively simple soon turns into murder. I enjoyed the Lieutenant cop speaking to Templar, warning him not to meddle in police business because he knows Templar's reputation. Simon protests and assures he would never do such a thing but of course I know him better by now. I'm always fond of the many varied US accents when the Saint nips across the pond and this was no disappointment either.

The Saint - The Gentle Ladies
Simon fancies a few days away so heads to a small place to chill out that by sheer coincidence also happens to be the home of a female friend. The pub has a lovely atmosphere and I can see why Simon chooses to stay there. There are three sisters in the town who are well known, one for being a bloody awful driver. We learn of her early on after she manages to hit the Saint's nice Volvo in the middle of an otherwise empty car park. An unfriendly Irish bloke turns up and begins blackmailing the sisters, who aren't sisters at all. Simon works it out and is having none of it. He drags the fellow off and they have a superb fight. The guy gives Simon a good go but our man ultimately kicks the shit out of him and fiercely tells him to get out of town. Alfred Powls is livid but realises he has no choice. He makes one last visit to the three old dears though, still intent on leaving with money. The three old ladies are fabulous. One in particular is ever so slight and has a very high-pitched, almost squeaky voice. We are kept intrigued for a long time, wondering what on earth the women are keeping secret.
There are a couple of things in all three episodes I watched this week that stand out in comparison to the colour episodes. The first is "the ungodly", a phrase the Saint uses several times to describe criminals and bad guys. Like some of the episode titles, I have no doubts that it has been lifted directly from the books. The early episodes are based on the original stories by Leslie Charteris and he is credited for the television scripts too. I have never thought of Simon Templar as a particularly 'godly' person himself so I'm intrigued that Charteris chose to keep this phrase and to use it regularly. Perhaps it was deliberate and says more about the Saint's own opinion of himself. The second point is that Templar seems if not more violent, then more fierce than in later episodes. In particular the way he confronts people stands out. After he's given Powls a stuffing his expression and his tone as he threatens the guy are really quite nasty. For me it gives the impression that the Saint is only ever a few steps away from dropping his halo behind. I like it.

The Great British Bake Off
Pasty week. I pretty much just drooled throughout the entire episode. There are many weeks when I look and think 'I quite fancy giving that a go some day' and there are weeks where it's just 'I quite fancy someone making that for me to eat'. As a fan of baklava I was fascinated to see Mel's little film showing how it was made. Top week.

Thursday
Aviva Premiership Highlights
Some of the games were pretty entertaining but though the names are all familiar to me, I'm still working on trying to keep up with club rugby. Being a couple of weeks or so behind on the highlights has obviously not helped.

Friday
The Lost Sitcoms - Steptoe and Son
I haven't seen a lot of Steptoe and Son. However over the past year I've caught perhaps a dozen episodes on UK Gold and have loved them all. The writing is often sublime. Whilst I haven't seen enough to fall head over heels for the show yet, I was wary about how the new actors would perform. They certainly felt different but by the end I was keen to see more from them. With such iconic characters 'different' can be the right approach. It was only as the credits rolled that I was struck that only two characters and two actors had carried the programme for thirty minutes. Never once did the episode feel like it needed anything more.

Sunday
Catchphrase
I don't like the new version of Catchphrase so I was watching the original 'say what you see' show. I used to get fed up of this show as my mom would put it on and guess everything before me. Well the mighty tables have turned now and I am a superb player of Catchphrase. Phrases and sayings I didn't even realise I knew came to the surface as I smacked down the remote in place of a buzzer.

The Science of Laughter
A Horizon special hosted by Jimmy Carr. Why do we laugh? What is the point of laughter? Why do things make us laugh? I enjoyed all the bits of this that didn't contain Jimmy Carr. Best for me is they didn't get too 'sciency' so I understood pretty much everything.

Crooks Anonymous
It's a film! Four weeks in and I seem to be averaging about one a week. This week I came across this 1962 comedy with Leslie Phillips, a man whose voice I knew if not his face. I infrequently listen to The Navy Lark and Phillips' distinctive voice caught my attention. Crooks Anonymous is an organisation that helps criminals turn over a new leaf and for Phillips' character, Dandy Forsdyke, it's a tea leaf. They lock him in a room full of safes until he can resist the temptation to open them and encourage him to end his pick-pocketing. They're an understanding organisation, being staffed entirely by ex-cons. This was a fun ninety minute outing for a Sunday afternoon with a few particularly excellent moments. I was also delighted to spot a very young Dennis Waterman playing a lad who accidentally kicks a football at someone's head.

Gladiators
I had this on in the background, paying more attention to some sections than others. I don't remember ever seeing it originally go out. For the most part is was just rather dull! This was the 1992 final held at the NIA. First they had to go round in giant balls and try to run over certain spots to score points. Another time they had a scramble up a wall whilst being chased and that was better. Another was hanging off huge rings and trying to get to the other side. There was standing on podiums with giant sticks trying to knock each other off. Finally, the obstacle course. This was quite interesting for the women but in the men's the one guy got such a head start that the result was a foregone conclusion. Whilst these things all sound interesting on the surface, in reality they were quite dull. The giant balls were heavy-looking and couldn't move fast. On the rings one woman didn't move the entire time and just held on for sixty seconds! It just wasn't exciting enough.

The Saint - The King of the Beggars
I thought I'd had enough Simon Templar for the week but when I couldn't get UKTV Play to actually play new Red Dwarf, it was easy to fall back on what was already in the DVD player. I thought I might have already seen this episode as the photo on the DVD's episode selection showed Marco (Warren Mitchell). I hadn't - it's just that Marco is Simon's taxi driver/sidekick every episode he visits Italy it seems. Beggars are being threatened and a couple have even been killed so some undercover work is needed. Seeing our suave, dashing, beautifully-suited Simon Templar transformed into a blind beggar is quite something. He pulls it off superbly. Our big guest actor this week is Oliver Reed playing a henchman-type role. He does it well although I'd have liked him to have a few more lines. Our little guest actor is Ronnie Corbett, is credited as 'Ronald'. The first time he appears briefly in a doorway I wasn't sure it was him. He gets a scene with Simon later where you can see him properly. It's the youngest I've ever seen Ronnie Corbett and having initially missed the name on the opening credits, a lovely surprise. An intriguing character point in this episode is that a wealthy philanthropist (are there usually any other kind), Stephen Elliot, brings up the Saint's past, something rarely referenced. I remember from the colour episodes that there is a recurring police inspector who never trusts Templar. He always suspects him of being dodgy in a 'too good to be true' type way a lot of the time. But Elliot sheds a bit more light by saying that Templar has switched sides meaning that he was once alongside "the ungodly". I'm inclined to suspect he was once a thief and I can envision him as a 'gentleman catburglar'. I have yet to read the books but I suspect they would enlighten me further on how the Saint picked up his halo. In terms of the TV series, it explains how Simon Templar used to make a living but for now he continues to pluck money out of the air to pay for his jet-setting as far as I can see.

Total
14 television programmes
1 film

Best: The Saint - The Gentle Ladies

Worst: Gladiators

Monday, 19 September 2016

Week in Telly 3

I went on holiday last week with the result that Week in Telly is looking a lot more blank. But I only lasted a few days before I succumbed to the need for telly. There are no days listed because they all blurred together a bit.

We the Jury
A sitcom pilot, part of Sitcom Season. A man has spent his whole life desperate to be a juror and this day finally comes on his 30th birthday. He's landed the cream of the crop too as he's bagged a murder case. I enjoyed this more than I expected though it was the minor characters rather than the main ones I liked best. I am skeptical about how well it would fare for an entire series. The main character, William, is more annoying than likeable. Plus I don't see how they could drag it out for multiple series. Does William keep getting called for jury service? It would be a bit of a stretch.

Our Ex Wife
Another sitcom pilot. Robert Webb falls in love, gets married, has kids and then, like many marriages, he and his ex wife end up loathing each other and now only speak through solicitors. He's moved on and is now engaged to someone new who is keen to meet the mother of her soon-to-be step children. I haven't actually finished watching this and I am not sure whether I'm going to. It's 'watch through your fingers' cringe comedy some of the time, something I usually avoid with a ten foot fence, barbed wire and lasers surrounding a moat.

Yes, Minister Special - Party Games
I checked through my 'Purchased' list of TV programmes on iTunes and found some episodes of this superb sitcom that I hadn't watched for a few years. Jim Hacker, Minister for Administrative Affairs (or something along those lines), is also party chairman and finds himself drawn into things when the Prime Minister suddenly resigns. Supported and guided by Bernard and Sir Humphrey, he finds himself in the unlikely position of being a candidate for the new party leader. These three characters together are so wonderful and I couldn't possibly pick a favourite. Sir Humphrey is a conniving and deceitful, yet you can't hate him. It balances out for all the occasions when he loses out. The events of this episode bring us straight into...

Yes, Prime Minister - The Grand Design
There are only so many things a minor cabinet minister can contend with so the writers cleverly promoted him. If we hadn't seen enough of it before, now Jim is Prime Minister we have plenty of his 'Churchill' moments. He wants to be remembered well and to look iconic so will mimic Churchill's speech pattern and stance at times, usually when he's making rather grand statements. It's interesting how the political matters in this episode - Trident, unemployed young people, conscription, Britain's relationship with the US - are issues that have never entirely gone away. They might not be prominent news headlines but there are still always people who disagree with defence spending and others who think young people would be more productive citizens if they had someone shout at them whilst marching for a while. It is a noticeably less frantic political world where they sometimes rely on waiting for the lead item on News at Ten to judge how successful they've been. I'd have quite liked to see Sir Humphrey dealing with Twitter.

Blackadder Goes Forth - Private Plane
The final series of Blackadder is probably my favourite and this is one of my favourite episodes, almost entirely because of Rik Mayall (still utterly unacceptable that he's dead, the bastard). Lord Flashheart steals every scene he enters and is superbly quotable.

"Enter the man who has no underwear. Ask my why."
"Why do you have no underwear, Lord Flash?"
"Because the pants haven't been built yet that'll take the job on!"

Blackadder "I'm beginning to see why the suffragette movement want the vote."
"Hey, any girl who wants to chain herself to my railings and suffer a jet movement gets my vote!"

"Now I may be packing the kind of tackle that you'd normally expect to find swinging about between the hindlegs of a Grand National winner..."

"Just because I can give multiple orgasms to the furniture just by sitting on it..."

His very brief moment when he cuts off Adrian Edmondson is also fantastic. As much as I love the character of Lord Flashheart though, I am very much on Blackadder's side. If I met Flash myself I'd think he was an arrogant tosser and probably smack him in the face. When they team up to confront Captain Darling though, all seems right. "Captain Darling? Last person I called darling was pregnant twenty seconds later."

Blackadder Goes Forth - General Hospital
There is a spy somewhere in the hospital so General Melchett sends Blackadder to investigate. He then sends Darling to spy on Blackadder and gives the former a convincing injury by shooting him point blank in the foot. Blackadder has Darling tied to a chair with a potty on his head, questioning him. It's getting a bit tense and Darling screams, "I'm as British as Queen Victoria!" "So your father's German, you're half-German and you married a German?" Blackadder spends his three weeks at the hospital shagging one of the nurses, who as they lie post-coital one day asks him, 

"Tell me Edmund, do you have someone special in your life?"
"Well yes, as a matter of face I do."
"Who?"
"Me."
"No I mean someone you love and cherish and want to keep safe from all the horror and hurt."
"Erm, still me really."

I very much share Blackadder's sentiments.

Total
6 television programmes

Best: Blackadder Goes Forth - Private Plane

Worst: Our Ex Wife

Monday, 12 September 2016

Week in Telly 2

Monday
Good Morning Britain
GMTV became a staple in our house probably because my parents got fed up of the inane chatter of kids’ TV in the background and/or my brother and I arguing over it. I used to like GMTV when I was at school because for a time I cared about the news and the GMTV news came on at the time I came down for breakfast. I had a few years without morning telly and it has morphed into something I really don’t enjoy. I sometimes catch the very end of GMB and I just don’t care about anything they discuss. However on Monday they had Renée Zellwegger on and I am a Bridget Jones film fan so watched the interview. I’m as apprehensive about the new film as I was before. Some things should just be left alone. I’ll find the film difficult enough because I still can’t get over Zellwegger’s facial change. She has apparently claimed it is down to leading a different lifestyle but that seems a bit of a push when she looks like a completely different person.

BBC News at Six
I never watch the news because I have the internet. I stuck it on for fifteen minutes before I went out. I chose a good day to tune in as the journalist went round Stoke interviewing various people about their thoughts on Brexit. It finished on an older, rather well-spoken woman who wasn’t happy about it, commenting that “even my Burmese cleaner” had voted out.

Tuesday - Thursday
Coronation Street Omnibus
I was losing interest a bit in these episodes but things picked up. Eileen has been persuaded to put Jason’s cash into her dodgy boyfriend’s mate’s fake housing project. I have no interest in this storyline as it seems the results are too predictable at the moment. Maria got robbed and it turns out it’s an old friend who orchestrated it in order to be able to sleep on her sofa again. Leanne told Nick that Steve is the baby’s father and it didn’t go down well at all. Craig turns 18 and Liz kicks him out the pub after his first legal pint because she’s been in a mardy mood all week over Steve and Leanne’s baby. At home Craig opens his letter from the police to say he’s been turned down because he failed to declare family convictions. He argues with his mom whose name I forget and it was great to see him have something a bit meatier to do. Craig has a permanent smile on his face and it often seems like there’s happy-go-lucky juice flowing through his veins, so it was nice to see him angry for a change. His mother fesses up that his dad, who Craig has never met, is in prison.

Tuesday
Deadpool
I had had a bad couple of days and got in from work utterly miserable on Tuesday evening. I desperately needed cheering up. I’d recently picked up Deadpool on BluRay and had been listening to the soundtrack so was drawn to it. Wade Wilson finds out he is riddled with cancer and volunteers to undergo a technique that can save him but will also turn him into a mutant with superhero-like abilities. It leaves him scarred so he sets out to track down the man who did it to him and force him to fix it.
  A few words on the soundtrack because I love it. We have Juice Newton - Angel of the Morning, which has grown on me enormously and I have felt compelled to belt it out in the shower. Salt-N-Pepa – Shoop, not my usual sort of thing but since I saw the film at the pictures I’ve found this really catchy. Neil Sedaka - Calendar Girl is probably my favourite song on the soundtrack. The Deadpool Rap is just great fun. DMX - X Gon Give It to Ya for our ‘we’re getting pumped up’ moment. Finally Wham! - Careless Whisper, one that the central character loves and informs us is the song that earned the band the exclamation mark. In isolation from the film the songs clash hugely but they are all great in their different ways and really add to my enjoyment of the film. I enjoyed it just as much as back in January at the pictures. I see most the Marvel films that come out and it was good to have one a bit different. It’s rated 15, meaning it can have more swearing and blood than the usual 12 releases. I also like the in-jokes and fourth wall breaking. One of my favourites was probably when the Hugh Jackman cut-out is revealed, stapled to Wade’s face.

The World at War – A New Germany
After Deadpool what else could cheer you up more than a documentary series on World War Two? Well it works wonders for me actually. I first watched The World at War whilst doing my A Levels and considered it to count as revision towards my History exam, though we’ll conveniently skip discussion of my eventual grade. The World at War is a fantastic series and it’s been a while since I’ve watched it so I thoroughly enjoyed opening up my BluRay box set. This first episode examines the build up to the war by looking at what was going on in Germany. The country was left an economic mess after the First World War and many people became very bitter about the terms forced upon them afterwards. Hitler was the knight in shining Nazi armour. We hear from some people who supported the Nazis at the time and from Jews who suffered under the new regime. Hearing about the experiences from both sides has always been one of the things I’ve liked about the series. The programmes wouldn’t be the same without Laurence Olivier’s voice over and I enjoyed it just as much as I always had. I thought this first episode looked superb on BluRay and I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest fare. One extra point of enjoyment for me was having been taking German evening classes for a year, I was able to read signs and shopfronts in the background.

Thursday
The Great British Bake Off
Bread week. I really didn’t feel as enthusiastic about bread as I did about biscuits. Bread needs stuff with it. Unless you’re a duck, you don’t usually eat bread on its own.

Friday
Aviva Premiership Highlights
I’ve followed England’s national rugby union team since I started watching games on telly alongside my dad as a young ‘un. I go to a game at Twickenham most years and was (un)lucky enough to go to some World Cup games last year. I haven’t ever really followed club rugby though. There aren’t any teams I know of near me and games are broadcast on BT Sport, which I don’t have. My dad follows a bit and supports Leicester Tigers so therefore I do. I did go with my university rugby team to see them play Gloucester a few years ago. Last season I tried to follow games via an app on my phone but sort of fell off it. Last Friday night was the first game of the season and when I saw that Leicester had come back from 7-31 to beat Gloucester 38-31, I was keen to see some of the game. Some of the commentary was a touch bland but it wasn’t so bad. Thankfully I spotted the Premiership Highlights in the ITV schedule. Hopefully I can stick with these highlights and become a proper fan as I enjoyed the other games shown too.

Total
6 television programmes
1 film

Best: The World at War

Worst: Coronation Street Omnibus, only because the calibre of other programmes was so high.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Week in Telly 1

A new feature for Visual Mutterings. Sometimes it feels like I watch a lot of telly. Other times it feels like I don’t watch that much. I don’t know what the average is. Often it feels like I mainly watch television made before I was born. I have never added up all the telly I’ve watched in a week before. Maybe you might be interested in some of the telly I watch. Here it is, an entire week of it.

Monday
The Breakfast Club
I’m trying to watch more films, particularly the sort of films that when brought up, people say, “How have you never seen it?!” I’m going to contradict myself by saying I didn’t entirely know what to expect from this film but it was a lot more serious than I was expecting. Yes it had its lighter moments but few and far between. Possibly my greatest source of amusement was how initially horrified the kids were upon seeing a bag of weed produced from a school locker. I think I might have enjoyed the film more if I’d seen it as a teenager because whilst I thought it was ok, after seeing it I’m surprised by how many ‘top films’ lists I’ve seen it in.

The Sweeney – The Tomorrow Man
In need of something more fast-paced and exciting, I ended my bank holiday with Reagan and Carter. Upon reading the blurb I knew I’d seen this episode a few years ago and remembered it as being rather good. The plot centred on a guy who has just done a couple of years for manslaughter and upon coming out turns to computer fraud. Reagan has his feet up in the office reading up on these computers. He asks George, “What’s a cursor?” “…Someone we nick for obscene language.” Despite the computer plot we still managed to get a punch up this episode too. Perfect.

Tuesday-Thursday
Coronation Street
Over the past year I’ve spent a few hungover weekend mornings with the Corrie omnibus on ITV2. I watched as a kid for a while and I’ve tuned in occasionally over the years since. I like to watch telly with my breakfast and needed something that didn’t need too much attention first thing so I recorded the omnibus for the past few weeks. It means I’m always a week behind but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. What I like about Corrie is it can be a few months or even years since I’ve watched and there were still be characters I recognise. Recent plot is Leanne Battersby being pregnant with Steve McDonald’s baby and has decided to keep it because she’s always wanted a baby of her own. This plot is mental. I am more interested in how Bethany Platt’s storyline will develop. A girl from school has been bullying her, telling her she’s fat, so Bethany has been spending all her time at the gym and started taking diet pills. If I had to stop watching tomorrow it wouldn’t bother me but it does for my morning viewing.

Tuesday
The Coopers vs the Rest
I wasn’t blown away by the new episodes of Are You Being Served? and Porridge so was interested in the first sitcom pilot of the BBC’s ‘Sitcom Season’. The situation is a couple with three adopted children. Youngest of the three, Charlie, is the only one in his class who hasn’t been invited to a birthday party so his mom gate-crashes it. Charlie has ‘abandonment issues’ so of course his mom accidentally leaves him at the party after bringing home a different child. They all had the same face paint on and it’s only as it comes off that she realises she’s kidnapped another child. “Why didn’t you say anything?” “I did – I said you’re not my mum.” “Well our kids say that all the time!” I thought this pilot was great and well deserving of a series. I hope it does well enough to get one as it certainly has potential.

Danger Man
I’ve had two box sets of Danger Man sitting on my shelf for what must be a year now but I’ve been very slow at getting round to watching many of them. I’ve watched enough episodes now to get used to Patrick McGoohan’s accent though. I watched this just before bed after getting in from the pub and really didn’t pay enough attention to all of it. Some of the Danger Man plots seem too ambitious for a half hour episode with the ending feeling rushed but this one was just right. John Drake goes to an African country (always love an unnamed African country during the 1960s) where there has been some violence or other and in order to get close to the truth he pretends to be offering guns for sale. I do wish I could remember more of the plot because it was very good. Drake being the only white character for much of the episode was an interesting change too. Though Drake travels extensively, it is usually to Europe or the U.S. so far and with an almost entirely white cast.

Wednesday
The Great British Bake Off
Twitter is why I started watching ‘the baking show’. At some point a few years ago my timeline started filling up with people shouting random things about bread and cakes. Sometimes I’d just see “SOGGY BOTTOM!” with no explanation. I eventually found out what #gbbo was and was flummoxed as to how so many people could be so interested in watching some random people bake stuff. How lame. How sad. How could people get so excited about baking for fuck’s sake? I’m not a baker. I am though, like many others, a big fan of baked goods and a few years on I found myself saying, out loud, “Oh my god – it’s Biscuit Week. I fucking love Biscuit Week.” I don’t tweet about Bake Off because a) I rarely watch anything live, and b) it would mean risking missing some vital baking-related event and having to rewind. I like Biscuit Week because we get to see the contestants’ icing abilities and there is always someone who is a fantastic baker but whose icing resembles a toddler’s attempts at colouring in. I also like seeing the constructions in the Showstopper. They can be absolutely amazing feats of design or hilariously dreadful. This week the latter befell Louise’s church wedding. As much as she annoys me, it was Candice’s pub structure that impressed me the most. We’ll be down to ten bakers next week, meaning we get to see their individual personalities a bit more and I find it easier to remember all their names.

Thursday
Inspector Morse
It must be well over a month now since I started recording ITV3’s Inspector Morse repeats, feeling I had never really seen enough episodes. I didn’t think I’d seen many episodes at all but I’m discovering I have seen considerably more than I thought. I get anything from 3-20 minutes into an episode before something clicks and I remember who the victim is or (far more annoyingly) who the murderer is. I read the description for this episode and it didn’t sound at all familiar but I’ve learnt this has no bearing. It took me literally 3 seconds on Thursday before I knew I had seen the episode before. A single shot of Sean Bean. No other memories were stirred however and so I enjoyed the plot without foreknowledge for a change. Three financial types who defrauded thousands of people are doing a couple of years in prison and one of them is killed. Then another. Then very nearly another. The cast was great. As well as Sean Bean as the poshest man in prison, Richard Wilson has found God inside and there are smaller roles for Phil Davis and Sue Johnston. The jewel however was Jim Broadbent, inside for killing his wife, a crime he still denies after sixteen years. I’m beginning to feel I have watched too much Morse lately. I enjoy them all but the length means I struggle to maintain my concentration and get fidgety after around an hour. I often watch an episode in two halves. I have them on series link at the moment but they do seem to get shown in a completely random order, jumping around series. This has no effect whatsoever as they all stand up independently but it would certainly make it easier for me to try and keep track of what I’ve seen now.

Friday
Robot Wars – The Final
I have only very vague memories of the original series of Robot Wars but I have watched most of this new one and loved it. Annoyingly I had the result of the final spoilt on Tuesday morning when I went on the BBC homepage so wasn’t sure whether to bother watching. But in the end I did watch a bit Friday morning and in the very early hours of Saturday morning. After a few episodes I am still surprised and entertained by just how powerful these machines are. Within the arena they often look quite small and it’s only when you see them being repaired with a human nearby for scale that you realise how big they are. The ‘flippers’ have dominated most of the episodes I have seen. Their skill is being constructed very close to the ground, with barely a few millimetres gap, so they can get under other robots and send them flying through the air. I look forward to another series.

Saturday
Only Fools and Horses – The Sky’s the Limit, The Chance of a Lunchtime, Stage Fright, Class of ‘62, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Uncle
On Saturday I was feeling the effects of overindulgence. For me this calls for something light, usually a sitcom, preferably one I’ve seen before. I started a rewatch of Only Fools ages ago but slowed down when I reached the 50 minute episodes. When a recent Twitter hashtag invited me to name, amongst many other things, my #fav7OnlyFools I realised I hadn’t included many that came after the original half hour episodes. It isn’t to say I think these episodes are bad – not in the slightest – but I just think the others are so good that I prefer them.
  The Sky’s the Limit and The Chance of a Lunchtime have never been particularly memorable to me. Whilst the former has Del Boy attempting to flog Boycie back his own satellite dish (that is actually an airport’s radio equipment) and the latter sees Raquel meeting with a theatre director, the most important ongoing plot is Rodney attempting to repair his marriage to Cassandra. What I quite like is in both cases this fails indirectly because of Del. Rodney books a hotel and goes to meet Cassandra at the airport but her plane has been diverted because of the equipment Del has accidentally got hold of. Then after making things up with her and having made plans to see each other back in their bedroom, Rodney stops by The Nag’s Head. A very drunk woman whose taxi has arrived turns out to be an ex-fiancé of Del’s. As Raquel has just got off the bus nearby Rodney offers to help the inebriated Trudy to the taxi. Trudy can barely stand up and Cassandra drives by in time to see Trudy lolling all over Rodney.
  This rewatch has really shown me that sometimes Only Fools seems very of its time, to put it nicely. In earlier episodes there are a fair few references to ‘the paki shop’. Throughout there are several little bits where Del’s attitudes about sexuality are made very clear, including in The Chance of a Lunchtime. Del gets left with a very effeminate set designer and when Rodney sees him through a window Del makes every possible sign language effort to indicate he definitely isn’t on a date. When Trudy is drunkenly screeching with laughter, Del remarks, “I think a lady should be a lady.” These little things irk me but not enough to spoil my enjoyment.
  My favourite moments for both these episodes come near the end of them. In The Sky’s the Limit the family are watching the news about the airport chaos and as a photo of a dish, identical to the one sat on Del’s balcony, appears on screen, the penny drops. Raquel says to Del, “You brought Europe, an entire continent, to a standstill.” Of everything Del Boy has done, this really does top it. The end of The Chance of a Lunchtime is when Raquel reveals she’s pregnant. She is so worried Del won’t want the baby. “Are you angry?” “Angry?” he says and walks away then a huge grin spreads over his face. He wants a party! Champagne! He wants everyone they know to come celebrate! “How could I be angry? I’m going to be a daddy!”
  Stage Fright sees Del convince Raquel to sing alongside another cabaret act, Tony, as he’s been offered £600. Tony cuts quite the figure on stage; tall, tanned, shades, perm, bulging trousers. Del and Rodney go backstage to offer him the contract and gradually all is revealed. The heeled shoes bring Tony down a few inches, the tan is fake and only covers his face and the V in his chest, the shades are replaced with prescription glasses, the perm is a wig and the bulge is a sausage. Tony tries to explain that he can only sing certain songs but Del blusters over him. The punchline is revealed on the night. Raquel starts off singing ‘Crying’ alone, looking rather pissed off. When Tony joins her he enthusiastically begins singing ‘Cwying’. As it goes on Raquel stumbles and finds herself saying ‘Cwying’ too. I don’t love this joke but I do like it and I remember my mom once crying with laughter at it. Back at the flat it’s the lines about the additional songs that get me. ‘Please Welease Me’ and ‘The Gween Gween Gwass of Home’ being amongst them.
  Class of ’62 give us the return of Roy Slater, latterly Chief Inspector Slater, before he got five years for diamond smuggling. I think all three of the episodes Slater appears in – May the Force Be with You and To Hull and Back being the other two – are superb, with May the Force Be with You being one of my favourite Only Fools episodes. Ever since her first appearance we have heard a few things about Raquel’s estranged husband. Most recently we found out he was a policeman. It turns out he’s the bastard of all policeman because he is of course Slater. He’s a wonderful character to love to hate. He blackmails Del who in turn manages to blackmail him, ensuring we never see Slater ever again.
  In He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Uncle Albert ends up in hospital after being mugged and Del Boy buys what will come to be known as ‘the Pratmobile’. Raquel is very pregnant now and Del gets her a car off Boycie so she can have a smoother ride than the van gives. It is the perfect car for Del Boy being lime green with pink furry window wipers and leopard print interior. This feel another very middleish episode with little actually happening. It’s ok but not the best. My highlight is the reveal that Albert wasn’t actually mugged but instead lost a fight to his friend Knock Knock. Too late, Del has paid a gang of bikers to beat up the skinheads hanging around The Nag’s Head. Rodney gets back from there to tell them that the skinheads weren’t skinheads, they are undercover cops and the bikers have taken a pasting.

Inspector Morse
Back on Thursday I was planning to have a break from Morse but on Saturday night you would have to pay me a lot of money to make me watch The X Factor so back to Morse it was. Finally, FINALLY, for the first time in a while, I had an episode I hadn’t seen before. I was very impressed with this episode, centred on several unexplained teenage suicides. One of those is a young girl Morse knows personally. We see him with the family, who are expecting her home from a sleepover soon. Morse later tells Lewis a little of his own personal history, revealing that the girl is his niece as her mother is his younger half-sister. It’s unusual and rather nice to see Morse like this with the family because he never normally mentions any. I’ve always presumed he has none or else was estranged from any he did have. The episode, first broadcast in 1992, takes a look into rave culture. I wasn’t around in 1992. I have no idea if there are still raves. If there were any when I was 16-17 it would not surprise me if they had completely passed me by. All in all this makes it difficult for me to judge how accurate a representation Morse gives of raves. No one drinks and instead they take drugs. The music is appalling. The kids ‘dance’ to it at the raves but also listen to it at home. I am not a fan of dance or ‘club’ music and whilst I can just about comprehend that some people might like to throw their moves to it in a club, I am baffled as to how anyone could enjoy actually listening to it. It’s quite a sight therefore to see Lewis, having acquired a baseball cap, nodding his head to the beat and declaring that the music is quite nice when you get into it. Overall though I found it a very sad story. Morse says, “There’s something about a teenage death, all that potential about to be realised.”

Goodnight Sweetheart – Many Happy Returns
I am a big fan of the original series of Goodnight Sweetheart. My DVDs have turned out to have been worth every penny of my pocket money as my brother and I have watched them repeatedly over the last ten years. I know the show isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but this is not the time for me to launch a lengthy defence of one of my favourite programmes. I’d seen a few photos online over the past few weeks, enough to feed my anticipation but not enough to offend my spoiler-sensitive nature. In the original series Gary Sparrow (Nicholas Lyndhurst) finds a time portal back to the 1940s and falls in love with a woman there. He proceeds to have a relationship with her, whilst also attempting to maintain the one with his wife in the 1990s. Especially in the later series, the writers really played around with the time-travel possibilities. The show ended on VE night with Gary getting trapped in the past. 17 years have passed. For Gary it’s now 1962 and he manages to reopen the time portal. With it being a show I love so much I was relieved I enjoyed the new episode. It was expected but we do get scenes with Gary being utterly confused by 2016’s technology. He also opens three phone boxes to find respectively: a library, a defibrillator and a hipster’s coffee shop. I actually really enjoyed the reminder of just how fast our technology has moved on in fewer than 20 years. Gary had a mobile, computers and the internet were around but what we have now is almost unrecognisable compared to 1999. It’s hard to say much about the plot without giving things away but Yvonne and Gary do meet. I was a tad disappointed she didn’t slap him but I did enjoy her calling him “an incompetent time-traveller”. Gary’s son Michael is all grown-up and Yvonne is revealed to have a daughter. With the addition of these characters I think there is certainly potential for a new series so we’ll wait and see.

Til Death Us Do Part
Whilst the other revisits to sitcoms have all been new episodes, Til Death Us Do Part is the first of the ‘lost’ sitcom episodes to be broadcast. These are episodes that are currently missing from the BBC archives. I haven’t seen any of the original episodes of Til Death Us Do Part and although I was sort of aware of what it was based around, it means I can’t compare these performances with the original ones. Alf comes home late from work to find an empty house, burnt tea in the oven and the fire gone out. He spends the entire episode moaning and attempting to get himself some fish and chips. I thought this episode was fantastic. It seems a very simple plot but the writing is so marvellous. I felt the performances from the cast were great too. The part of Alf’s wife was done just right as even when there were only a few words they were delivered just right. I am keen to see some original episodes. I’ve heard that Alf’s character is purposefully offensive, something not really featured in this episode, so I’ll head in prepared and see how I get on. Hopefully the writing is as consistently good as this.

Sunday
An Extra Slice
Once a week not enough to get your Great British Bake Off fix? Watch Jo Brand and celebrity guests talk about the bakers, try some of the studio audience’s bakes and laugh at photos of disasters sent in. The baker that went out this week also comes on and has the opportunity to redo one of their bakes from the tent. Often they choose one of the disasters that got them sent home and Louise didn’t let us down here, perfecting her biscuit wedding scene.

Road Wars
I used to watch Road Wars and its sister show Street Wars late at night back when there wasn’t anything else on at that time and Sky+ hadn’t reached us yet. They show a lot of car chases, something I always enjoy. It is starting to date a bit now with some of the criminals’ fashions and there was even one copper who looked like he wasn’t wearing a stab vest.

The Simpsons
I rarely watch The Simpsons though I did watch it a lot growing up. For as long as I can remember it’s been on Channel 4 and Sky One almost daily. It’s always there so I could watch it if I wanted to but generally I’ve just become a bit fed up of it. This was a newer one that I hadn’t seen. Marge opens a franchise of a sandwich shop but a rival one run by the hillbilly family opens up opposite with predictable results. The Simpsons manage to trick the franchise into giving them back the money Marge invested. Not a great episode.

Poldark
I watched the last series of Poldark and despite initially really liking it I started getting bored towards the end. I wasn’t sure whether to watch the new one but in the end agreed to. I got bored very quickly and only half-watched it whilst scrolling through Twitter. Someone died and I wasn’t even sure why. I think I need to give up on it now.


Total:
19 television programmes
1 film

Best: Til Death Us Do Part

Worst: The Simpsons – at least I was expecting Poldark to bore me