Monday, 26 September 2016

Week in Telly 4

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

14 television programmes
1 film

Best: The Saint - The Gentle Ladies

Worst: Gladiators

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