Monday, 21 November 2016

Week in Telly 12

Twelve whole weeks of my television schedules...

Monday
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

I'm a Celebrity... is the only reality show I have kept watching. I gave up on The X Factor many years ago. I gave Britain's Got Talent another go a couple of years ago but after it was won by another chuffing dog I vowed never to tune in again. I watched some of Celebrity Big Brother one year (the year with the Shilpa Shetty racism controversy) and got bored. My brother watches Big Brother in all its guises so I have seen enough to convince me never to watch any more of it. I can't stand watching dancing so Strictly and the ice skating has never interested me. I'm a Celebrity... is never particularly memorable to me once it's over. The years blur together and I can't remember which were the years I missed. I may have missed a few years but I do find myself returning to it.
I was skeptical when I saw the line up of 'celebrities' for this year. The only two I recognised were Carol Vorderman and Larry Lamb. However, I think a large proportion of the audience have agreed to go along with television's increasingly loose definition of 'celebrity'. Let's face it, getting people like Olivia Coleman or Ian McKellen into the jungle was always going to be difficult. They are a very young group this year, something I was quite disappointed about. I think it usually helps to have a few mother/father figures in the camp. We seem to be lacking the 'trying to revive my ailing career' people that have previously made up the 40+ age group. It is too early to tell if there will be any major arguments and bust ups. They certainly make a series more interesting though if they go on too much it becomes very dull seeing the same people take up screen time. This lot seem to be getting on marvellously so here's hoping hunger, tiredness and missing home will bring out the worst in everyone.

Tuesday
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

Highlight: celebrities singing Spice Girls whilst trying to avoid any of the 120,000 creepy crawlies getting in their mouths.

Doctor Strange (2016)

This is only the second film I've seen at the pictures since beginning Week in Telly. It took a while to get used to Benedict Cumberbatch's American accent. Overall I was pleased to see something so different from the usual Marvel fare. They have all started to blur together in my head recently and this was so distinctive. I really liked the description of spells being like creating computer programmes.

The A-Team
The Taxicab Wars

Idly flicking through the TV guide for something to watch I stumbled across Forces TV. The channel describes itself as focussing 'on all aspects of the British Armed Services' but a quick scroll through their schedule tells you it also shows vaguely related drama too. UKTV Gold showed The A-Team when I was about 11 or 12 and I absolutely loved it. Somewhere I have an A-Team  mousemat. Often called in to stand up for the little guys, Hannibal, Faceman, Murdoch and B.A. used their fists and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of guns to fight the bad guys. All four of them brought different skills to the team and each got their chance to shine from time to time. The A-Team is ridiculous and unrealistic but so much fun that I have never cared. Also, top marks to Forces TV for broadcasting in the correct aspect ratio.
Lonestar Cabs is being driven out of business by a rival whose employees are destroying Lonestar's cars. The A-Team join Lonestar and as well as defending Lonestar's cars they start wreaking havoc on the rival's ones too. All of this provides plenty of opportunity for car chases, cars flying through the air, cars getting flipped over, cars getting shot apart and cars getting blown up. At one point a couple of elderly British tourists get caught up in it all. What more could you want?
The A-Team has a magnificent title sequence.



Tuesday-Wednesday
SAS: Who Dares Wins

The final episode of the series sees the remaining men undergo the 'resistance to interrogation' phase. Hours upon hours of being in stress positions with hoods and blindfolds whilst listening to a baby crying. In between they are interrogated. This varies from a nice woman asking questions in a reasonable manner to a bloke shouting in their faces. Only one guy made it to the end and I was intrigued by the commentary on his tactics. It was observed that his manner and way of speaking mirrored that of the interrogator, which makes him come across more favourable. This has been an intriguing series, particularly the tests that dig beyond the participants' physical fitness.

Wednesday

The A-Team
Labor Pains

I can't tell you how much it pains me to have to use the U.S. spelling of 'labour'.
The A-Team barge into a garden party, let off a few bullets into the air, then demand food and money for the starving crop pickers in the owner's employ. They organise a meeting so a union can be declared. When the nasty rich man and his thugs show up, the A-Team fire cabbages at them from a home-made machine (off the peg cabbage firing machines are notoriously scarce). This felt like peak wondrous A-Team absurdity.

Man About the House x2


Background telly because even after a week and a half off I am still not ready to watch any more of this properly.

Thursday
The A-Team
There's Always a Catch


There is a protection racket going on in a small fishing town. This provides plenty of opportunity for slow-mo shots of guys flying through the air and landing in the sea. At the beginning of the episode the A-Team are forced to stop at a hospital as B.A. has trodden on a nail. In all of the episodes I have watched so far Colonel Decker has been right behind them and here he almost catches them. He works out that they are helping out in the town. With the help of Garber, who is running the racket, he manages to capture Hannibal, Face and B.A. It was only then that I was reminded that whilst Murdoch is part of The A-Team, he isn't wanted by the military police. This gives him and Amy, the journalist who joins them for a while, the chance to help break the rest of the team out. If memory serves me right we pick up odd bits of back story throughout the series but it's the final season that really pieces everything together as to the 'crime they didn't commit' mentioned in the title sequence.

Friday
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

This is from Tuesday night. The eating trial used to get left until late on, something to be anticipated and dreaded. The past couple of years have chosen to make it one of the first trials, perhaps realising that an audience can only watch people eating anus so many times before it loses its impact. The camp are still getting on far too well so hopefully bringing in a couple of new people will liven things up.

Bullitt (1968)

This was just so bloody good! There is very little music throughout and this works superbly. There is none whatsoever in the incredibly lengthy car chase. I think a lot of modern films use far too much music in action sequences, sometimes unnecessarily. Here, you get to hear every skid, gear change and squeal of brakes. It's intense, exciting, gripping and one of the best bits of film I have ever seen. I'd picked Bullitt up a while ago because I haven't seen many films with Steve McQueen. I enjoyed his performance in this but it was the recently departed Robert Vaughn who impressed me most. His slimy politician was magnificent.

The A-Team
Water, Water Everywhere

Some injured Vietnam War veterans are trying to open up a hotel in a desert town (who knows why) but a local landowner wants them to sell to him because the land has water available. With the A-Team themselves all having been in Vietnam they should be showing a little something extra. But apart from one nice little conversation, nothing is alluded to. A missed opportunity.

I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

I'll be honest - they all just blur together.


Saturday
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!
Again.

Rugby Union: England vs Fiji

I was at Twickenham Stadium in person last week, therefore this is the first Autumn International in Week in Telly. The first half became quite dull after a while with England easily scoring try after try. I imagine this must be what it's like to be a New Zealand fan. But then unlike the Kiwis it all went to pot for England as Fiji got some back. It was a good reminder that England haven't suddenly become invincible with Eddie Jones at the helm. There is always something to be improved and Argentina next week certainly won't be a pushover.

The A-Team
Steel

A building contractor has won the rights to demolish an old building but a rival contractor is seriously harassing him. It turns out the rival put the previous building up and poured concrete over the corpse on behalf of a mobster. Near the start of the episode the contractor's heavies come to offer the men work for the rival company. Hannibal and B.A. manage to kick off a fight. Face and Murdoch screech up in Face's convertible Corvette. As they leap out to join in Face remarks "This is becoming predictable", which made me laugh. A few episodes in and it is now exceedingly clear that The A-Team script is of course the same every episode: someone is getting harassed/intimidated, the A-Team turn up, an initial confrontation with the bad guys, they scout out the bad guys (possibly visiting their business/house), another fight, Hannibal gets a plan together, Face cons them some stuff, they quickly convert a vehicle/machinery into a weapon, great big fight at the end. Loads of punches are thrown, loads of bullets fired, but not a single drop of blood nor a single corpse seen so far. And I still love it. One little difference this episode is that Face is caught out and for a while it is quite concerning. 

Sunday
I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!
And again.


Nightingales
Kiss and Make-Up

I was absolutely shattered and dropping off to sleep after I put this on so can't really do it justice. The "nobody here but us chickens" gag is ongoing and improved. This episode Ding Dong and Carter still perform it even though they are in the middle of a fight with their arms wrapped round each other. Also, the former Page 3 girl who comes for a date joins in with it later.

Total
16 programmes
8 new
8 old
2 films

Best: This is Week in Telly so although I mention the films I watch, I feel awkward about the idea of naming a film as the best thing I have watched this week. Both Doctor Strange and Bullitt were superb and if I had to choose the latter would probably just pip the former. However, the best telly I watched this week was in fact The A-Team - Steel. For the mobster and for Face getting captured, it made it slightly stand apart from the others.

Worst: This is hard because I haven't had much variety in programmes at all this week. I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! has all blurred together and I am catching up on most episodes a day or two later so that doesn't help. But I am still going to say I'm a Celebrity... I watch it, but with a phone or tablet in front of me as well. It isn't engaging enough alone, despite Ant and Dec.


Week in Telly began three months ago in order to take a look at how I watched telly. I was worried I watched too much and so far I can say... yes, but only occasionally. There are a couple of weeks where I've watched loads followed by ones where I watch comparatively little, perhaps because I have watched so much the week before. Being able to see this has made me feel better for the days when I opt for several hours of telly. I did start to become self-aware though, as I realised I would write about whatever I chose to watch. I think the long-term effect of this has been that I am becoming more picky and I only watch things I really feel like watching. Hence Coronation Street and An Extra Slice dropped off, as for the moment have many programmes with (part) at the end. Though admittedly Man About the House is still holding on in there and I had a Gavin and Stacey binge.
One thing I was particularly curious about was how much older television I watched. I decided to classify 'new' and 'old' simply by 21st and 20th century. Most of this 20th century programming has in fact been pre-1980. The average comes out at 48%, helped by an increase over the last month in particular. It may rarely count for the majority of what I watch each week but there have only been three times that a new programme was picked as best (Red Dwarf - Samsara, Taskmaster and National Treasure). Statistically, I am enjoying old programmes far more. Why? Well I have one explanation; my new programmes have been reality TV and sitcoms whilst drama features more heavily in my old programmes. I may watch Bake Off and I'm a Celebrity... but exciting, gripping drama will always beat that. The sitcoms I have seen have been good but for the most part not mind-blowing.
I am currently carefully considering Week in Telly's future. Does it continue in its present guise? Should I have an edited down version? Perhaps simply a 'best of the week'? Or should it just go completely? For the next couple of weeks, it could well be all change. If I stick with I'm a Celebrity... then it really will need something a bit more interesting.

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