Hi folks and welcome to a look back at the last two weeks in TV.
There’s been a lot of music-based programming dominated the channels over the past few weeks. This is evident in Rock Rivals – a kind of frothy drama as its from ’the makers of Footballer’s Wives’ you kind of know what you’re getting. Set behind the scenes of an ’X-Factor’ style talent show the main focus are the married couple Malcolm and Karina Faith. Malcolm and Karina are two rival judges on the show and are very much in love and till she finds out he is having an affair and hits the roof. Queue lots of shouting, smashing of Gold Discs and in the opening and final scene, she rides his car into the pool. The other stories involved pretty boy singer Luke who was seeing and proposed to fellow contestant Dana and Briony who after being slated by Malcolm on stage, slit her wrists on the extra show and then failed to come out of her room because of her pushy mother. Luke also has an obsessive male fan who has a full blow-up doll with his face. At the end of the show Karina decided to back Briony and Malcolm – Luke as they made they were into the rest of the show. While I loved the absurdness of Rock Rivals – the stalker in particular as well as another strong performance from Michelle Collins as Karina there was just something missing. The format of the show was never really explained – there’s no set character as every judge has three acts. The third judge never really got a look in but he was a stereotypical Irish bore who had troubles with a boy band. And that’s the problem apart from Mal, Karina, Luke, Dana, Briony, her mother and the stalker there were a lot of supporting characters jostling for attention. The fact Simon Cowell pulled out of this early on because he thought it was too tacky is an indication of what to expect. That’s not to say it hasn’t got its charm and if you’re just looking for a bit of entertainment complete with OTT scenes and good looking young people then you could do a lot worse.
Another week another BBC3 pilot, Mrs. Inbetweeney saw an uncle coming back to take care of his brothers children after he and his wife die only he has now become a she a transsexual and a catty one at that. It follows the old formula at first the kids resent her but by and by they change and get to appreciate what she can do for them. It also explores the relationship between Brendan/Emma and her estranged brother and mother. Even though it deals with a bizarre topic, Mrs. Inbetweeney was probably the most accessible of the dramas thus far less morbid than Being Human and less totally bizarre than Phoo Action, this was very in the family drama with a twist. The child actors and the lead actress where all good in their roles and there were some genuinely funny moments – the grandma being stopped by the police while experimenting with love eggs was a particular highlight. Even though BBC3 has stupidly commissioned Phoo Action to a series, Mrs. Inbetweeney had a lot of good characters and a lot of open plotlines but the last scene in which we saw Emma’s willy was going a bit too far.
I very rarely cover shows on Five and there’s a reason for that because its full of documentaries about people with freaky diseases and American imports. So the show Breaking Into Tesco was a refreshing change. Four cooks who think that their idea would make a good new dish for Tesco shoppers went through various challenges and at the end one would get into the final five. In this inaugural episode the cooks were Sarah who had made Oriental Soup, Andi who had made naturally good muffins, another Sarah who had made Lancashire shoe pasties and Stokie boy Paul who had created Cherry Ravioli. Pastie Sarah was the first to fall by the wayside before Something for the Weekend chef and occasional ’To Buy or Not to Buy’ presenter Simon Rimmer. He gave them some tips, the cherry ravioli looked better, the oriental soup became a microwavable option and the muffins got a beetroot injection so they would rise better. Paul with the Ravioli lost out to the taste test barely and finally the soup was chosen mainly because there was nothing really like it and Andi of the muffins was a bit pushy. Breaking Into Tesco was a good format, you got to see behind the scenes about what makes a good product and how your ready meals are made. Its also quite entertaining Simon Rimmer has a good presence and the chefs were all ready to make twats of themselves on T.V. It may get quite boring quite quickly although I did see a drag queen on next week’s show so I don’t think that’s going to happen quite yet.
Finishing off now with two comedies, the first being Empty. Empty follows the lives of two Scottish removal men – Jackie played by Gregor ’It’s been off the telly for years but I’m still recognised as being Rab C Nesbitt’ Fisher and Tony played by Billy ’I was in Lord of the Rings really’ Boyd. The basic premise is that they go into a house talk about their lives and then find something a bit dodgy that makes them re-evaluate the situation. For example episode one saw them find a lot of model boats in this guy’s house and they turned out to be full of drugs, but this was all the plot there was and most of it was banter between Tony and Jackie. I have no real problems with sitcoms about nothing in particular – The Royle Family and The Smoking Room are two such examples but I think Empty is pushing it just a little bit. Boyd and Fisher are totally likeable and the plot with the drugs boats was pretty funny but it didn’t really appear till the last ten minutes and most of the episodes seem to be two-handers full of banter between the two. It just seems to be a bit well Empty, but there’s still a lot of smart humour and good references for example I don’t think any other sitcom has referenced Super Mario and Dadaism in the same episode.
Back in 2005 there was a show called Love Soup written by the great and powerful David Renwick of One Foot in the Grave and Jonathan Creek fame it followed the lives of a beauty shop counter worker – Alice played by Tasmin Grieg and an American T.V. writer Gill, there two stories were completely separate but you did think that they would meet up near the end. Flash forward two and half years later and Love Soup is back but with a new formula. Gil’s storyline and the man himself have both vanished and the show has been cut from an hour to 30 minutes. This time we follow Alice and her two colleagues played by Sheridan Smith and Montserrat Lombard (and I swore I would never type that name again) as they talk about their problems with men and life in general. There are some brilliant scenes, for example Alice’s problem with driving is helped along by an armed robber forcing her to drive and gunpoint. Other gags didn’t quite hit the mark an almost lesbian encounter with the boss played by Rebecca Front didn’t really work but the gossipy style between the three women works and it’s nice to see a classic sitcom writer work with some new formats. Although it sounds like a girlie programme it should appeal to both genders which is good as everyone should watch it.
Next Time: White Girl and The Fixer