Back with another three weeks worth of TV gold.
So the good doctor was back in Series Four of the current run and the third series with David Tennat. In past instalments I’ve been overly critical of Tennant’s performance of the doctor as it seemed to be a step backwards from Ecclestone’s doctor. I watched only three episodes of last year before I couldn’t be bothered any more however I did catch and rather enjoyed the Christmas special. This series started nice and slowly introducing the new companion Donna played by Catherine Tate. Tate has also been criticised by some Doctor Who aficionado friends of mine and I’d have to agree that she isn’t the best choice for a companion simply because she doesn’t seem to have the same qualities as a Billie Piper or a Freema Agyeman in that the personalities are kind of different – she’s not a nubile young thing but a hardened world weary civilian who’s regretting that she let the Doctor go off the first time around. The first episode revolved around a special slimming product and an alien breed that were to be harvested. As Donna and the Doctor both looked into the mysterious product their paths were bound to cross and the episode was also filling in the blanks between the Christmas Special and this new series – Donna has changed and is now willing to be taken off by the doctor. Personally I didn’t mind Tate supposedly she’s toned down since the last time she was on screen. This first episode was also good thanks to the acting credibility bought by Sarah Lancashire as the company boss and to a lesser extent Bernard Cribbins as Donna’s grandpa. I’ll reserve judgment on the episode by now but I think my main problem is that the suspension of belief with some of the onsters is wearing thin – the first series seemed new and fresh with the use of computer graphics for these monsters we were given something new to look at instead of the men in silly costumes which were around in the days of Pertwee, McCoy and the Bakers. But now in series four I’m finding it hard to watch these monsters every week – they’re not particularly scary and somewhat comical. What they have got right is the class of guest stars and sometimes the writing but event that’s inconsistent. I will try and watch some more this season and report back in a later blog.
As BBC1 bought with their big Saturday night hitter, ITV1 bought back Britain’s Got Talent the show that bought us Paul Potts and let several seven year olds release albums a task that was once considered child labour. The panel is all back Simon ‘Doctor Death’ Cowell who if an act impresses feels like they’ve got nothing left to prove – Piers ‘Simon Cowell II’ Morgan another nasty Cowell clone and Amanda ‘I’ll let any act through’ Holden whose job is to sit there and smile and flirt at the guys – kind of what Sharon Osbourne does on The X-Factor without as much plastic surgery or smutty innuendos. The basic premise of this show is anything goes – anyone of any age, any ability or any talent (or no talent). Like X-Factor its classed into – brilliantly talented with sob story, good performer – with no sob story or ridiculously bad. Over the past two shows the big sob stories have been the little boy who sung Pie Jesu after saying he got picked on at school for being good at singing and that he was. The second was the woman from Thailand who wanted to be successful to make enough money to bring her kids home she was also good. I’d love that some people with the sob stories were actually shit – boy: I get picked on at school for singing, Cowell: I’m not surprised your crap now get off my stage before I set the Gestapo on you. Then there were the non sob-story talents – a sixteen year old who dances with a dog (and I bet has never been kissed), a little boy who sings Frank Sinatra, a quarter of electrical violinists (the violins were electrical they weren’t robots) and two karate stunt guys who got Amanda Holden all hot and flustered. The shit acts included Ferrets running all over the stage, a so bad he’s good singer and an impressionist whose William Hague, David Blunkett and Tony Blair voices were all the same. One thing that annoys me on Britain’s Got Talent is the constant use of the cutaway to Ant and Dec standing in the wings. To me it takes away some of the power or awfulness away from the acts their sarcastic comments and witty banter are fine when they’re presenting links on I’m a Celebrity or even doing interviews but here it just seems selfish. So far the person to get the most fame out of Britain’s got Talent is Piers Morgan who has gone to the U.S.A and made a name for himself on America’s Got Talent alongside David Hasslehoff and Brandy (the singer not just Hasslehoff’s drink of choice). All in all I do like Britain’s Got Talent it’s The X-Factor without the tedious weeks of watching all the good people sing its just the audition process which is everyone’s favourite really. And it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable than I’ll Do Anything.
The Apprentice has proved that i’ts not how good the person is its just how much character they have if we look at who’s gone so far: Shazia, Ian, Nicholas and Lindi the only character that has left so far is Simon and he got the very sought after ‘with regret’. In my opinion the two biggest characters are Raef and Claire. In the first week Raef was presented as a very pompous guy in week two he was shown as a very efficient team leader. He has since fallen into the background a little bit which is a very good game move. Meanwhile Claire has garnered the most press action for being horrible to everyone – Lucinda, Simon, Alex anyone who gets in her way basically she is a big dog. But she’s getting the same we-love-to-hate-her feel that Katie Hopkins got last year don’t be surprised if she got to the final. You have to feel sorry for Lucinda that’s what Margaret and Nick certainly do sticking up for her while Siralan was deliberating this week in previous she was picked on for screwing up the technology in the camera task even though she fully admitted she’s never taken a digital picture. Her management style would never float in the Sugar world because she’s too nice but we’ve never seen anyone like her on The Apprentice before and that’s why she’ll stay. I’ve got a feeling that Michael and Lee may go quite a bit further – Michael’s got a kind of Lohit feeling about him he’ll team lead in a week where the other team does shit and then not get bought back into the boardroom at all meanwhile Lee’s cheeky cockney charm will mean that not many people will bring him back to the boardroom. Kevin’s got to go next and I’ve got a feeling he’ll team lead in the next task with Lee probably leading on the other side. Watching the coming next on The Apprentice the two teams get into the greeting card trade with Lucinda/Lee’s team getting a good idea about celebrating being single while the other team have come up with some idea about insulation it doesn’t take a genius to work out who’ll win the task.
In my top 25 shows of 2007 I placed Skins at Number 18 saying it was like Grange Hill on Speed and that it was a bit juvenile but there was a sense of drama behind it. My God has it changed the last three episodes were almost pure drama save an inspired disco dancing sequence in an exam hall and a chase between a hearse and a mini. The finale in which the gang said goodbye to Chris and each other had me almost tearing up multiple times. Especially during Jal’s speech at Chris’ funeral and Tony and Sid’s final goodbye at the airport. I liked how Maxxie and Amwar got to continue living their lives in London and how the Sid and Cassie story was left open ended. I have enjoyed this series of Skins so much more than the first one. However Season Three I approach with trepidation I understand the reason to scrap the entire cast. This is a story about kids at college and now they’ve all gone to Uni we need to follow some more characters. As we saw in the final shot Tony’s sister Effy will be the central player in season three and I’m guessing that’s why she was centre stage in one of this Season’s episodes so we could get used to her. Whether it will work time will tell but I’m definitely going to miss the fine bunch of young actors who made Seasons one and two such a joy to watch.
Gavin and Stacey another series that finished recently was the brilliant Gavin and Stacey. Unlike Skins the second series didn’t improve any more but it kept going although its tricky to move .. a couple get married where do you go from there as Gav-Lah and Stace almost split up at the end of the last episode only to be reunited as Nessa went into labour a month early. Although still being about the relationship between the two named leads this has also delved more into the relationships of the supporting characters. Co-writers James Corden and Ruth Jones have delighted as Smithy and Nessa, with the latter allowed to get a bit of heart between her big comedy segments, her human statue and Smithy and Nessa’s getting hot and heavy over a KFC corn on the cob were particular highlights. Larry Lamb and Alison Steadman share a fantastic chemistry as Gavin’s parents Mick and Pam with Steadman constantly being hilarious and Lamb as the calming influence (he’ll have to change tack when he plays the newest Mitchell in Eastenders this summer). However the cream of the crop has to be Rob Brydon as the naive Uncle Bryn baffled by everything and singing a lot he is one of the best comic creations by a long shot. This final episode has everything G and S is known for comedy, warmth, almost heartbreak, a random singalong and a great set piece – in this case Smithy lifting the barrier on the seven toll bridge after being 10p short. Corden and Jones are still ooing and aahing over doing an entire new third season but at least us fans have got a Christmas Special to look forward to.
Next time: Flood, The Inbetweeners and The Invisibles