Monday, 10 October 2016

Week in Telly 6

I was very ill on Sunday evening (not hospital bad - just a nasty bug) and felt utterly dreadful all of Monday. Any movement felt like an enormous effort so I spent a lot of time in front of the telly.

Coronation Street Omnibus
I can't think of a single plotline that has particularly gripped me this week as I just wasn't concerned with any of them all that much. Caz and Maria end up speaking and the former's crush is outed. It's been obvious that despite Maria talking to her after the kiss, Caz has still been lusting after Maria. This would be fine but Caz has seemed naively oblivious to the fact that Maria has no feelings towards her whatsoever. It takes Maria shouting, "I'm one hundred percent straight!" for Caz to actually accept it.

Dara O'Briain - Craic Dealer
I used to get stand up DVDs every year at Christmas and watched them regularly. I'm currently not entirely sure where most of mine are. I spotted this one on a shelf in the lounge and felt like I could do with the laughs. It was nice to find my tastes haven't completely changed. I stopped watching Mock the Week a while ago as I had become fed up and found the guest comedians hit and miss. I have always liked Dara O'Briain's stand up though and re-watching this has reminded me that I've always wanted to see him live.

The Sweeney
Love it. One of the baddies this week was properly deranged, as confirmed to us by a shrink with one of the most superb hairstyles for the balding man I've ever seen. Our bad lad Cook has escaped from prison, helped by a friend who is at an open prison. His friend has been taken under the wing of a man he now calls 'Uncle'. We find out this old man has in the past engaged in certain activities with young men and it becomes perfectly clear that he fancies the young lad in his charge. The guy has no problems with this and accepts the old man's lusting because he's loaded. Cook plans to do a couple of jobs then scarper abroad but doesn't make it far. His violent temper and decision to pick up a shotgun rather ruin things. Besides Cook's petty thieving, no proper crime happens in this episode. No car chase, no shoot outs. Nonetheless there's plenty of tension and a certain 'thrill of the chase' as Reagan and Carter attempt to find Cook.

Dinnerladies (part)
The start of some late afternoon channel hopping. I haven't watched this for a long time but as I remember the plots are of no consequence to me. This is all about the marvellous writing.

The Brittas Empire (part)
I missed the start but still tuned in as it was the very first episode. It was interesting to see that there was no great decline for Gordon Brittas as from the very start he was a bit of a dick. I don't think I've ever enjoyed watching someone so irritating. Gavin and Tim both ask if they can swap their afternoons off. I found it quite amusing as they skirted round the obvious, explaining to Brittas that they had a lot of hobbies in common and liked to spend a lot of time together outside work. Do they ever get a kiss in on screen?

Futurama (part)
'Death by Snoo Snoo'. After crashing on a planet inhabited only by giant women, the men are sentenced to death by shagging. Like The Simpsons the other week, I realised this is a show I have long since grown tired of.

Man About the House
I'd seen an episode of this on the ITV at 60 box set and really liked it so when the info guide said this was series 1, episode 1, I felt it was worth my time. I enjoyed finding out how Robin came to join the flat and found the opening few minutes strong gag-wise, which was nice when some sitcom openers struggle to fit this in around all the plot to establish. George and Mildred, an older couple from the flat below, get plenty of screen time. George strongly objects to having a man share the flat with two women but is persuaded when informed (wrongly) that Robin is gay. What a different time.

Only Fools and Horses - Little Problems (part)
Our Sky box wasn't working so we were stuck without our recorded programmes for a short while and this was the only thing we fancied watching. I actually chose to put it on because I always get it mixed up and thought it was Sickness and Wealth, where Del goes into hospital. Instead this is Rodney's wedding. One of my favourite moments is when Del realises he needs to pay back £2000 to the fearsome Driscoll brothers but had already promised it to Rodney as a wedding present. A trouserless Rodney drunkenly confronts Del through the bathroom door later saying Denzil had told him Del wouldn't be able to give him the money. Del shouts that the money is on the side. Cut to Del, wimpering a tad as he eases his sores, courtesy of the Driscoll brothers.

National Treasure
I am behind on this series (behind being this is the first episode) so am keen to try and catch up. It follows a celebrity accused of historical sex offences. As something that has been played out several times in the headlines over the past few years, it's obviously an intriguing take on contemporary events. The celebrity in the series, Paul Finchley (Robbie Coltrane), is fictional but the series is set in a world we know with Alan Carr and Frank Skinner amongst those appearing as themselves. It felt very odd to watch at times. In the first episode Finchley has already shown himself not to be a perfect family man but as the series progresses it will be interesting to see whether we believe him to be guilty or not.

As Time Goes By (part)
I have yet to watch a full episode of this and usually only catch a few minutes at a time. It's about an older couple attempting to rekindle a relationship they had in their youth. I'm not sure whether it is supposed to be a sitcom because it doesn't really feel like one. It's more comedy-drama, for which reason I've never really warmed to it.

The Brittas Empire
It's the opening day of the centre but everything Brittas touches turns to disaster. I think my favourite character is probably his wife, being the only one in these early episode who knows just how dreadful his influence is.

Doctor Who - Mummy on the Orient Express
Though I felt much better, my body still seemed to be quite worn out from tackling the bug I'd had. I suddenly felt exhausted not long after 8 on Tuesday evening so retired to bed with telly. I have a lot of Doctor Who on my shelves but they rarely get watched anymore. No reason - I just never fancy it. A couple of online sales are the main reason I have any of the most recent series. This episode was my favourite from Peter Capaldi's first series. I found the mummy quite scary at the time but either I've hardened over the past couple of years or I was just too tired to notice. I still enjoyed it a lot and found the plot very good. My only problem was with the 'ongoing story' stuff with Clara. It didn't dominate but I was unable to remember what had gone on with her in the other episodes that meant she was fed up with the Doctor and planned to leave him. I really dislike these story arcs now though I am torn. It doesn't just happen in Doctor Who. On the one hand it means characters can develop and become more interesting, on the other it can drag out and get ridiculous. Doctor Who is a series where episodes should be able to be watched on a casual basis. For me that means I don't need to re-watch the last series to remind myself of minutiae. Thankfully, I think it has got better compared to a few years ago.

Doctor Who - Flatline
I wasn't very keen on this when it went out but I'd hit 'Play All' and wasn't quite ready to drop off to sleep yet. I actually enjoyed it far more. I found the idea of two dimensional beings trying to communicate in our three dimensional world an interesting one. It's also always intriguing to see how a writer deals with an episode that doesn't feature the Doctor as much. I loved Clara deciding to call herself 'doctor' and trying to be the Doctor. At the end she asks the Doctor, "Was I good?" and after hesitation the Doctor eventually responds, "You were an exception Doctor, Clara [...]Goodness had nothing to do with it." The Doctor has a fair few 'rough' days. I thought this reminder was a great touch right at the end.

I've loved the previous couple of series of Taskmaster so was thrilled to see another one appear so soon. Greg Davies is the Taskmaster and every weeks sets the celebrity contestants various nonsensical challenges then judges them based on his own criteria. The first task is always to provide an object. These objects become the prizes at the end of each episode. This week's theme for the objects was 'flamboyant clocks'. Other challenges were to reach a microwave across a running track in the fewest steps, propel a pea as far as possible onto a red carpet, make the best snowman, and balance as many swedes on a Swede as possible. The snowman task was undoubtedly my favouite as they all desperately struggled to construct snowmen without any snow. Often the best way to win a task is to think a bit differently. Last series the contestants were asked to balance three huge yoga balls on a yoga mat at the same time. Fastest wins. The was a yoga mat was at the top of a hill. Richard Osman was the only one who thought to bring the mat down before attempting to balance the balls on it.

Man About the House
Jo is having a boyfriend over for dinner and Robin is blackmailed into cooking. Robin and Chrissy head downstairs out of the way, where they find themselves playing French Monopoly with George and Mildred. Neither evening goes well. As Chrissy and Robin are leaving Chrissy politely says, "We must do this again sometime." "Why?" Robin quickly asks.

The Great British Bake Off
Dessert week. Or is it desert? No definitely dessert. I didn't know that mousse was so difficult to make. But even those that didn't set properly or started to melt still looked fantastic and I went to bed a bit hungry. Tom had had a close time of it and had been incredibly lucky last week so it was definitely his time to go. Selassi had once looked a robust contestant - he was so cool and calm under pressure! - but the quality of his bakes has suffered recently and he has never particularly shone in the technical challenges. He could be next as the competition gets very competitive now.

Man About the House
I accidentally watched episode 3 before episode 2 so this episode sees Robin moving in. I was quite pleased to see him having several suitcases, boxes and bags plus a guitar wedged into a taxi. Often programmes from this area see people moving with a single suitcase. I'll be moving myself at some point and my stuff alone could easily take up a small van. Chrissy's mother has come to visit so they spend the episode trying to make sure she doesn't find out Robin is living with them. Jo hurriedly takes him down the pub and explains the situation, to which Robin replies, "My mother doesn't trust me so I don't see why anyone else's should." I'm really warming to this sitcom. Whilst some of the attitudes are very dated, the humour is often based on wordplay or sarcasm. Most of it feels very natural and the type of thing I'd hear in my own family. It works very well.
A rare Week in Telly treat - screenshots! Sort of... Can anyone identify the writing on the ashtray? It half resembles a butter dish to my eyes. It reads, "You can't beat..." but I can't make out the final word. My first thought is it's probably an advertising slogan so perhaps someone remembers it.

For the unacquainted, Hunted is about people trying to avoid capture for 28 days in order to win £100,000. This is a fun show to watch. The series starts with, I think, ten people. Some are in pairs whilst others have opted to go it alone. The contestants are of varying ages and come from various backgrounds. This was episode 3. I actually forgot to mention the first two last week - I blame being ill. Several of the contestants have worked out that 'going rural' is one of the best ways to avoid getting caught as there is no CCTV and far less people who might turn them in. The 'hunters' are supposed to have 'all the powers of the state' though it is stated at the start of each episode that some of these have been replicated. They hack the participants' phones and laptops, they can monitor any phone conversations and track people via their phones. They have access to CCTV and number plate recognition technology. I'm really enjoying watching it but at episode 3 I've begun to get skeptical. They decided to intercept mail, which helped them catch one person but hadn't bothered to do it for another. I am aware that a certain amount of the show must be set up but that bit in particular has really bugged me.

Man About the House - episode 5 and 6
If it wasn't enough that I was accidentally watching episodes out of order myself (regular readers will remember that I like order), ITV3 skipped episode 4 this week. These episodes see Robin get a cold and then the rent goes missing. Still lapping it up.

Not Going Out - Series 1
I had nothing to do on Saturday and I couldn't think of anything I would want to do. Combined with an adult colouring book (please don't judge - I find it so tranquil!) I enjoyed the whole first series of Not Going Out. It has been a few years since I've watched this, though I have watched most of the newer series go out. Layabout Lee Mack shares a flat with American vegan, health-freak Kate, who has recently split up with her boyfriend, Tim, who is Lee's best (only) friend. I seem to remember these early series going out at 8.30 and this would tie up with the many times in this series where they almost swear. This certainly isn't a family show though; the first episode has Lee date a woman who suffered abuse and became a teenage prostitute. The topics chosen in some episodes just don't allow it to be a proper pre-watershed show but there are moments when it shows it could have been. The episode with Tim's nan's funeral stands out. Tim gets giddy off creme de menthe and at one point an aunt appears with a permanent marker beard. By the series' end we've settled in. This is a nice, comfortable, middle-ish sitcom with some occasional corkers. We've got to know our three main characters a fair bit too, right before we say goodbye to Kate and welcome Tim's sister, Lucy, for series 2.

National Treasure - episode 2 and 3
This is gripping and with one episode left I still don't know what to expect. What I most enjoyed from these episodes was the flashbacks. The babysitter flirting with Paul Finchley was a very tense moment in particular. The main reason I liked them is that they are all pretty open-ended. They answer some questions but not all and I'm still left wondering. I want to believe Finchley is innocent because they've painted a portrait of him that we could put to so many of our real life national treasures. Nonetheless it has always been clear that he is not a faultless man. He says he is innocent and everyone around him is saying he is innocent but of course they are - they are his family and closest friends. At his daughter's party he tells his friend Karl that despite how many people have come, he actually invited far more. We haven't been shown the people who believe he might have done it. They were the people who did not come to the party.

Out of Sight
Struggling for something to watch on Saturday night I found this late nineties film with George Clooney and J Lo. She's with the FBI and he's an escaped bank robber. Will they, won't they? Will she turn him in? Whilst it sounded fun and in fact most of it was, it quickly became clear that the ending was a foregone conclusion. If anything made the film feel unrealistic it was that George Clooney was by far the best-looking criminal in the entire film. They could have at least have found some handsome extras to disperse among everyone in the prison scenes.

Sunday Brunch (part)
I watched Ricky Wilson from Kaiser Chiefs teaching the hosts how to apply eyeliner and then badly cut up some garlic.

Inspector Morse (part)
At the time of writing I haven't finished this episode. A famous opera diva has been shot dead and someone left a cryptic message in Welsh.

Bridget Jones's Diary (part)
Bit of background telly, despite having watched it only last week. I still managed to spot something new; when the gang visit for Bridget's birthday you can hear Shaz yelling, "You look so fucking thin!"

30 programmes
18 new (21st century)
12 old
2 films

Best: Taskmaster

Worst: Futurama

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