Monday, 12 December 2016

Week in Telly 5th-11th December

This Morning (part)

I caught most of an interview with an actor, Martin Compston, promoting a new series he is in, In Plain Sight, about a serial killer. Compston is apparently known for a London-based programme, Line of Duty, which I haven't seen but they said he uses a London accent in it. Compston, Philip and Holly chatted a bit about Compston getting to use his own Scottish accent for the new show. The man did his job well and sold the show to me.

Steptoe and Son

I have not seen many episodes of Steptoe and Son, something that is quite nice as from what I have been told I have plenty to look forward to eventually. I had however seen this episode before. Two convicts escape from Wormwood Scrubs and take up at the Steptoe residence, planning to nick some grub, money and a car. Albert and Harold have none of these things. The younger of the criminals is played by Leonard Rossiter. Both he and Harold feel held back by the old men they are stuck with and an unlikely bond is struck up. 

A Test of Character

Godber is preparing for an O Level History exam and Fletcher decides to help him out by nicking the exam questions. He enlists McLaren to help distract Barrowclough whilst Warren rifles through a filing cabinet. Godber is at first horrified and refuses to look at them but later we see him sneaking a peek into the envelope. Undoubtedly my favourite moment is the reveal that the illiterate Warren had in fact lifted the Biology paper instead.

One Foot in the Grave

I don't remember watching a full episode of this before and I doubt I will again. It did little for me, though it did get interestingly dark when it is revealed that Meldrew has encased some nursing home carers in concrete out in a field, dressed as scarecrows. 

Goodnight Sweetheart
...But We Think You Have to Go

I am a big fan of Goodnight Sweetheart so have seen it all many times. This episode is the second of a two-parter from series 5. The fifth season is where Goodnight Sweetheart starts to get really interesting as the writers begin playing around with the time travel element of the programme, though this is not actually one of those episodes. Gary has spent years pretending to be a spy in the 1940s. Suddenly the real MI6 of 1944 contact him as he is an exact double (minus a tache) of a French colonel. They tell Gary they need to use him as a decoy on the Isle of Wight so the real colonel can get involved in the planning of D-Day. However, Gary is tricked and they in fact send him to Nazi-occupied France where he is certain to get shot. Gary gets captured by the Nazis but is helped by a member of the French Resistance. It's an exciting episode and always nice for a sitcom to move away from its regular sets. The following episodes get even more intriguing as Gary is deeply affected by his experiences.

Final Stretch

This final episode sees Godber getting parole. It is rounded off nicely with a chat between Mackay and Fletcher as Mackay describes a young lad he thinks will benefit from becoming Fletcher's new cellmate.

I Dream of Jeannie

My Dad introduced me to I Dream of Jeannie a few years ago but I haven't revisited it since. It's a 1960s' U.S. sitcom and though I prefer a few more laughs from a sitcom, the plots of this series have held it up for me. Larry Hagman (best remembered for getting shot in Dallas) plays a young astronaut, Tony Nelson, who has a genie, Jeannie. The only person who knows about Jeannie is his friend, Roger. In this episode Roger has been consulting a clairvoyant and even after meeting her Tony is skeptical. He still agrees to come to a seance but tells Jeannie she definitely can't come. Jeannie has other ideas and Madame Vastra gets quite a surprise.

The A-Team
Harder Than It Looks

This was AWESOME. The A-Team move up considerably from their usual bad guys, fighting against a terrorist group. Magnificently, we get through the entire episode without discovering the name of the group or even what they stand for. We find out they want to blow up a dam but we never find out why. We know these are serious baddies though as, in an extremely rare A-Team moment, we actually see someone get shot! Whilst breaking into a very poorly guarded dam system one of the terrorists shoots a security guard in the stomach. It is quickly revealed to be Hannibal in disguise and he is wearing a bulletproof vest. Earlier in the episode the A-Team has been tasked with getting back a rich bloke's kidnapped daughter. This involves breaking into a terrorist group's heavily guarded compound, B.A. getting the gold kicked out of him fighting off "Godzilla", making a get away only for their fuel to have been shot up so they head back, grab the ransom money they had to leave before and interrupt a terrorist meeting to take off with the kidnapped girl's terrorist group boyfriend.

Decked out in some stolen terrorist uniforms (all black with skin-tight sweaters), everyone apart from Hannibal abseils down a cliff whilst he holds off some terrorists single handed (Murdock says "as long as there's gunfire we know he's still alive for them to be shooting at him"). When he runs out of bullets he dives off the 200 foot cliff into the water below.

This is top, top stuff. Hannibal spends most the episode in the black uniform and though you would think the skin-tight top would do him no favours, he still manages to look superbly cool. He very much feels the star of the show in this episode.

Bargain Hunt (part)

If you aren't familiar with the concept of Bargain Hunt (I am not particularly well acquainted with it myself), the show pits a red and blue team against one another to buy stuff then sell for the highest price at an auction. I saw them look round at all sorts of marvellous tat but the highlight was a little piece to camera from the show's presenter. He talked about some silver cufflinks in the shape of dumbbells then a small, intricately decorated silver cuboid with a hook on one end. This hook is to thread it onto the chain of a pocket watch. One of the longer sides of the cuboid is hinged and opens up to reveal three tiny dice you can tip out, which are gaming dice. Absolutely lovely.

I'm a Celebrity: The Coming Out Show

This programme is often better than the actual series of I'm a Celebrity... as we see the celebrities unashamedly gorge themselves on food and drink.

Christmas Night with the Stars
Coming soon...

The Apprentice

I have never watched an entire series of The Apprentice and am doubtful I have ever seen a full episode. Someone was watching an episode when I got in and I ended up watching the last twenty minutes or so with them. Blimey it's worse than EastEnders - all they do is shout and bicker. One team had made an orange gin and were trying to flog it to a supermarket. The supermarket weren't keen on the colour so Lady A says that it could be changed. Immediately after this Lady B says they would not change the colour as it was part of their brand. Unbelievable. This team ultimately did shitter than the other slightly shit team so had to go and argue in the shittest cafe in London before Lord Sugar decided which one of them would get a free taxi ride home (it was Lady B).

The A-Team
Deadly Maneuvers

Another absolutely AWESOME episode. The A-Team are doing some fitness training on a big obstacle course they've knocked up in the middle of nowhere, meaning there is plenty of work for George Peppard's stunt double. Hannibal reckons they have been making mistakes lately so need to improve their fitness - this from the only member of the team with a little pot belly who chain chomps cigars all day.
I might have moved faster in P.E. if they'd fired a gun over my head too
They have been at these digs so long they have even got a milk delivery sorted. The enormous quantities of milk getting delivered there is probably what has drawn the attention of some bad guys, as well as the regular bursts of gunfire. A milk delivery is poisoned and B.A. starts to feel rough, with Hannibal slowly getting affected too. This is only the start as after getting in a Ferrari with a pretty young woman Face gets captured. When Murdock goes to look for him he finds a moaning dog in a hedge only to discover it's a trap. Hannibal takes B.A. to a doctor but has to leg it when guns are drawn. He's on his own and has to get the rest of the team back.

This is a great episode because it completely departs from the show's usual structure. There is no mission, no one to help - just bad guys who want the A-Team dead. The bad guys here have been hired by a consortium of even badder bad guys. The A-Team have ruined a lot of money-making operations and therefore affected the work of plenty of criminals, even if they've never met them. In short, they have pissed off a lot of people. It reminds me of a couple of other fictional characters.

There is an episode of Doctor Who where the Doctor is basically locked inside a big box after loads of aliens he had fought against decided to work together to defeat him. He had pissed off a lot of aliens. Likewise, in The Man With the Golden Gun James Bond has a '007' engraved golden bullet sent to him. The message quickly becomes clear: someone has paid $1 million to have him assassinated. "Who would pay a million dollars to have me killed?" ponders Bond. "Jealous husbands! Outraged chefs! Humiliated tailors! The list is endless!" quips M. Flippant though M's line is, the reality is that Bond has killed a fair few people and ruined several villains' plans. There are a number of people who would prefer him dead. Even Batman's bad guys got together to plot against him in The Dark Knight. It's all very well being the hero but you can't be surprised that if you spend your days chasing bad guys, one day the villains could start chasing you too.

I like this concept and The A-Team carries it out well. It shows just how fallible they are as they each get picked off one by one. They don't even realise anyone is after them until it's too late. This is the complete opposite to how they work normally. They scope out the villains, then have an initial encounter where the A-Team whip the baddies' arses. It enables the A-Team to start from an offensive position. Yet here, Hannibal has to call in Tawnia for help after running off, firing a gun behind him and having to leave B.A. Overall this plot is a wonderful way of changing things round as the series comes towards the end of the second season.

Doctor in the House

I was distinctly unimpressed by this. I had enjoyed an episode on Network's ITV 60 set so when I saw ITV3 were putting Doctor in the House into the Man About the House slot I thought it a good opportunity to see it from the start.

Holiday Inn (1942)

After having this recommended to me earlier in the week I wasn't too sure what to expect. It turned out to be a traditionally fun musical. Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire play a couple of fellows who can't help but fancy the same woman. They both employ morally dubious tactics in trying to ensure they keep affections of Virginia Dale and then later Marjorie Reynolds. Apart from a rather disturbing sequence in which a song and dance number is performed in black face (including a blacked-up version of Abraham Lincoln!?), the whole film was enjoyable. 

In Plain Sight

It was impossible not to notice the Scottish accents in this drama set in Scotland and for the first fifteen mintues or so I really noticed them. It is very rare I hear any accent on telly that isn't English. Obviously this is not helped by the type of programmes I choose to watch - the most recent Scottish accent I had heard was McLaren in Porridge. To hear an entire cast's worth was a lovely change.

We meet Peter Manuel, a previously convicted rapist, who assaults a young woman, Mary. Detective Muncie had caught Manuel before and was determined he would go down again. It goes to trial but after defending himself Manuel gets off. The episode ends with the body of another young woman being found dead on a golf course. It is such an intriguing story and obviously being based on true events draws us in all the more.

Peter Manuel is a psychopath. Muncie says so and Martin Compston said so in his interview on This Morning. Compston spoke about what a brutal character Manuel was and that he "had no redeeming features". I instantly knew this couldn't be true. Serial killing psychopaths are interesting so I have read and watched programmes about a fair few. Whilst they and other killers often have many deplorable characteristics, if nothing else redeems them then there is often one seemingly positive trait they share: they are charming. With charm you can convince other people of what a lovely, kind, person you are. Perhaps not everybody and not all of the time, but enough that a community would not point the finger at you first. In fact they might even point it last. If you can charm people, people will believe the stories you tell. If you can charm people you can make them trust you, if they trust you they let their guard down and then eventually you can perhaps get away with murdering them.

Planet Earth II

Having been meaning to get round to this series for some time, I at last started and was instantly gripped by Sir David Attenborough's lovely, soothing, familiar voice. There were a couple of magnificent moments. The first was the dragons. I cannot emphasise just how fucking enormous these creatures look. I have never seen anything like it before - something that continually draws me to Attenborough programmes. I could scarcely believe it as I watched, open-mouthed, two of them fighting over a female. Whilst they grappled with one another and slammed their huge tails into each other, Attenborough's commentary told us the tails had a force equivalent to a sledge hammer. Astounding.

The second highlight for me was the baby iguanas hatching. The eggs are buried on the beach and when born, they scramble up and out to then make their way to meet the adults. Lying in wait however are nests of snakes. I've never seen snakes move like that before and they were also incredibly fast. We cheered the newborn reptiles on as they legged it across the shore but not all of them would make it and seeing them squeezed to death was a little unpleasant.

Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special 

There is every chance Morecambe and Wise will be making regular appearances in Week in Telly over the next couple of weeks. I haven't seen very much Morecambe and Wise and it is mainly the Christmas programmes that I have seen. Their BBC2 repeats in recent years have attracted me over whatever has been on either BBC1 or ITV. This 1969 one wasn't all that Christmassy and I didn't have a clue who half the guests were. It very much felt like a variety show with plenty of singing spots. The songs weren't a hit with me but I enjoyed the bits in between.

17 programmes
6 new
11 old
1 film

Best: The A-Team - Harder Than it Looks. Picking a best programme this week was the toughest it has been for some time. I also feel I am betraying, well, Britain itself, for picking The A-Team over Sir David Attenborough. But Harder Than it Looks was such a cracking episode and so much fun that for me it topped everything else.

Worst: Doctor in the House

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