Another week in T.V. land
And yet another T.V. celebrity reality show as ITV1′s Dancing on Ice comes back for a third season. Apparently DFS ‘proudly sponsors’ this show but I thought they’d be ashamed to sponsor such a blatant Strictly Come Dancing rip-off with second rate celebrity competitors. Just like Strictly it has the young girl/older male combo but Phil Schofield hasn’t got the charming entertaining appeal of Brucie and Tess Daly has a lot more charisma than beautiful but vacant Holly Willoughby. Also like SCD they have a judging panel but to try and outdo them they have five instead of four. These five include co-trainer and Linda Nolan lookalike Karen Barber, her former ice-skating partner and weirdo Nicky Slater who decided to write a poem for Sarah Greene. Robin Cousins seems to be the Len Goodman of the gang, not officially a head judge but the most senior member of the council he sits royally and often gives the highest marks. Then there’s musical actress and Lord Lloyd Webber favourite Ruthie Henshall, Henshall doesn’t seem to have any experience in ice skating or professional dance but is just there to make up the numbers as last year there was an Eastern-European judge who you couldn’t understand to save your life. But of course the judge of the minute is Jason Gardener aka ‘the nasty one’, he is a choreographer and is title is followed by those three words I hate to here after any name to-the-stars. As a ‘Choreographer to the stars’ he has worked with Kylie, Cher and err… Bjork as all her dance routines are so great. Gardener is there to give everyone a little bit less than everyone else and be the bitch. To cap off this already teaming bunch are the trainers and Olympic medallists – Trout-faced Jane Torvill and her husband and skating partner Christopher Dean, I’m sure these two are together for the skating, I felt nothing between them in their opening skate and there was more chemistry exuded by some of the non-professional couples than there was here. First off the blocks was Canadian square-jawed oaf Greg Rusedski, who seems here to want to be perceived as ‘the witty one’ in his opening VT he never shuts up and one wonders if he did this during training that’s why he didn’t win any major tennis tournaments. Rusedski skates around for a bit and gets the worst score of the night. Next up was Suzanne Shaw, who wants to rebuild her image as a the cute one after he dalliances with Darren Day and her nudity being splashed all over the tabloids. And she did come across as a cutie both in training and in the routine, a sign held by her son ‘Go for it Mummy’ must have inspired the judges as she got one of the highest scores. Next up was professional cleaner Aggie McKenzie who is OLD and we are reminded constantly that she is OLD, some would say too OLD to skate and at 52 she is the OLDEST contestant that Dancing on Ice has ever seen. In fact she is reminded of this even after her skating attempt as her age is shoved in her face as Gardener said that her skating partner was flinging her around like an OAP he also gave her 1.0.
I seemed to get the idea that Tim Vincent didn’t want to be there, they kept showing clips of him filming his ‘new NBC show’ Phenomenon which he had to miss training to go over to L.A. and film. I don’t know what he’s trying to achieve he can’t promote a show that isn’t showing over here and I doubt the Yanks would want to watch some insignificant Brit prancing around on an ice rink with a bunch of no-hopers, but then again there is a Writer’s Strike. He is apparently the weakest skater and gives a very mediocre performance skating to ‘She’s a Lady’. The most obscure face is Natalie Pinkham apparently a DJ she doesn’t have a face for radio and also appeared on a show called Adrenaline Rush but apparently she is most famous for being fondled by Prince Harry and suing to get these pictures back, which I’m sure is why she’s on this show. She is going for the young female breakout star, but she has none of the bubbly tenderness that Aleesha Dixon had but instead looks like a younger Kelly Brook but not that attractive, she is just a bit blah and so was her performance. Afterwards Gardener decide to rename her Natalie Pinky, because she keeps using her little finger, hilarious! Steve Backley looks a bit like Nicky Campbell he is a javelin player and a medallist and he’s not a bad skater either not that the judges noticed, we were also on tenterhooks to see if he fell over because apparently he had a hip replacement he could break his hip, and that’s entertainment. Pip Schofiled’s old Saturday morning buddy Sarah Greene was next, her routine wasn’t bad but she got one of the worst scores of the night. Justin from Hollyoaks was next up, not in any remorse about pushing Claire off the balcony or sending Becca to prison he kept going on about being on the ice but then kept falling down because of the toe pics on the ice dancing skates, Torvill said that David Seaman had the same problem but unlike Dave, Justin didn’t drop his partner. Instead he was seen as the hot young favourite, his and his partner’s skating outfits were sparkly silver with faux graffiti on them and they skated to the Arctic Monkeys, V. Alternative and with 20.5 Justin was top of the class, and he didn’t have to sleep with the teacher this time (unless Justin and Jason are having a bit of a fumble, and now you’re stuck with that mental image).
Anyone who saw last year’s Get Your Act Together with Jonathan Goldstein will be familiar with Jonathan’s need to get one Samantha Mumba back in the public eye a number one singer and actress in that awful Time Machine film with Guy Pearce, Mumba had been having a career drought for years but Goldstein was going to turn it around and even got record labels interested. But obviously first he booked her on this show. Her V.T. was filled with lots of screaming and falling down and then Mumba being berated by her partner who reminded me of a Russian hitman, Mumba and the hitman got 5th place overall. ‘This years Andi Peters’ would be the description given to the gormless Michael Underwood. Underwood’s career in T.V. goes back 11 years where he appeared on Gaby Roslin’s ‘Whatever You Want’ because he dreamed to be a children’s T.V. presenter he left children’s T.V. and is now on GMTV, so rightly he gave up on his dream and shouldn’t be on this show. But I forgive the Gods of Karma as he seems to fall down like a prat every five seconds, he’s even dressed like a clown during his performance to ‘Walking on Sunshine’, he look disorientated and weird but yet got joint fourth place. Linda Lursadi’s intro showed us her foot operation, and she should take four to six weeks off to recover but the trooper she is she got on with it and was there on the night to do a decent performance. I liked Gareth Gates when he had the stutter, he was one of life’s runners-up but now that was just a gimmick, he’s just a Northern boy trying to revive a singing career which was a marketing stunt to begin with. He was giving it all though and this was reflected in his third place effort, he was dancing to ‘Beautiful Day’ I’m guessing he rejected all the Will Young material they wanted him to skate to. Even though Mumba came fifth and Greene came tenth they had to have a skate-off and despite her influence with one of the presenters, Greene was kicked out.
I’ve already stated why this show grates on me its Come Dancing but with lower production values a second rate presenting team and a judging panel who dont’ all get to air their grievances on every performance. The Torvill and Dean skate at the beginning is just a bit wrong and it seems that ITV1 are stretching the material that they have. But its ITV1′s line-up that is under scrutiny, both this week and next I will be looking at their new weekend line-up with comedy and light entertainment on Friday’s with Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach and Al Murray, Family drama and adult comedy with Primeval, Harry Hill and Thank God You’re Here and comfy cosy Sunday night headlined with Dancing on Ice and Kingdom and Wild at Heart. At the end of the day its inoffensive and I just won’t watch it.
Got bored of costume dramas yet? The BBC hopes not as now Sense and Sensibility has finished its time for Lark Rise to Candleford (or Candleford as I will call it for short). Candleford has more in common with Cranford than with any of the other costume pieces milling about at the Beeb mainly because it wasn’t adapted by Andrew Davies therefore there are no young girls in ill-fitting corsets instead there is a brilliant ensemble cast to tell this very light story. Sugar Rush’s Olivia Hallinan is the lead of sorts playing a girl leaving her native poor country town Lark Rise and going to work for her cousin Dorkis at a Post Office in the upmarket snooty Candleford. This first episode was all about the distance between the two points (hence the title) and how Hallinan’s character is trapped in the middle. The end of the episode saw Dorkis bend the rules to find out that Candleford is less than 8 miles from Lark Rise and therefore the Lark Risians do not have to pay any charge for their telegrams. Julia Sawahla is probably the star of the show as Dorkis she has to be firm yet fair and seem oblivious to the dirty stares she’s getting from the married magistrate but while all the time secretly diddling him in her head. The lighting used in the Lark Rise set paints a positive view of poverty but is really only there to promote the HD service (Candleford is available in HD) and the casting of veteran actresses such as Dawn French and Linda Bassett (who also popped up in S and S) goes to show that poor people are a lot more happy than the rich. Special mention though to one of my favourite actresses and people generally Liz Smith as Dorkis’ maid Zilla steals every scene she’s in. I rather enjoyed Candleford and its a lot better idea to watch this than Dancing on Ice to while away the cold winter Sunday nights.
A different sort of period drama was also available this week in Channel 4′s City of Vice. Set in the 18th Century it follows the first police force and follows magistrates, Tom Jones novelist Henry Fielding and his blind brother James. The first story focused on the killing of a whore and the investigation of a whore-house owner into the death. This was very violent and sexually violent and the dialogue was a bit heavy. It was narrated by Fielding played by Ian McDiarmind, but because of McDiarmind’s previous notable role it sounds like its being narrated by Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. Meanwhile the other guy who plays the blind guy walks around with dark glasses like the ones Gary Oldman wore in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula and the Emperor kicking ass in the 1700s is a show I’d like to see however this was deathly dull. The only plus point to this show was the brilliant animation used to demonstrate the city streets of London but overall this was a dud.
Next up we have the latest Channel 4 vehicle for Justin Lee Collins – The Convention Crasher. The one off last year saw the Bristolian going off to Las Vegas to become a Tom Jones impersonator in a tribute act contest. This time the focus was on magic, of course for an hour show JLC had to pad at first he was given small fiddly tricks that he didn’t want to do. After all JLC is a character he’s not a magician to be doing card tricks, stuff with doves, rope, elastic bands or what have you. He dreamed of being like the big illusionists that he used to watch on T.V. as a child. So he went to visit someone who helped him with a big trick ‘metamorphosis’ which involved being tied in a sack and locked in a box. But it’s at this point that Justin reveals that he’s claustrophobic and so we see his harrowing ordeal to try and overcome this in order to stay in the box for two minutes. After this he comes up with his name – Justin Illusion, a lovely assistant – Panache and a of course a cape and then it’s off to Ohio. In Ohio he meets various other magicians makes friends including one of the most notorious illusionists Fielding West whose big trick seemed to be doing a good impression of Face from the A-Team. Collins also struck up a friendship with another magician who was going on just before him at the magic competition. However the next day this magician goes over the 10 minute time-limit and his entire act is disqualified. From nothing, Collins act is suddenly brilliant he only messes up the final explosion but Justin Illusion with panache wins third place and collects 100 dollars before returning to the U.K. for one last show. Of course these shows are just filler and a celebrity version of Faking It, but Collins can make any format work and always throws himself into whatever challenge he gives himself with gusto and that’s why we love the man.
BBC2 meanwhile continues to be hard-hitting sending Louis Theroux into San Quentin prison in San Francisco. Two documentary shows that I can remember have seen people doing interviews in prisons before, one is Ross Kemp who regularly goes behind bars to interview gang members (see him in Afghanistan next week) while Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock actually spent 30 Days (because that’s how long he does anything for) in a minimum security prison. Imagine the shock when you see a British Camera Crew come through your doors and you think oh good Ross Kemp’s back but instead of a bald cockney hardman you get a weedy bespectacled guy who couldn’t handle himself in The Queen Vic at all. But I must stop insulting him because Theroux is one of our best documentary makers last year interviewing America’s worst family and going under the knife were both brilliant and Louis Theroux: Behind Bars wasn’t any less fascinating. He spoke to a cross section of people from the man serving 15 consecutive life sentences to the transsexual who was being released at the end of his stay there. They all seemed happy to speak to him but this wasn’t orchestrated you could here the real prison noise in the background which made it all that more real at one point there was an alert but nothing happened. But overall, Theroux wanted to paint a picture of guys who to all intense and purposes were happier in San Quentin than they were on the streets.
Next Time: A Boy Called Alex, Duel and Thank God You’re Here