Not a lot to write about but even when there’s little on the box you know that This Week in TV can still be entertaining.
First up its X-Factor time, two weeks in and its tough times for Louis Walsh as in his group category he’s down to one single act that’s Mowtown rip-off merchants JLS (Jack the Lad Swings apparently). Did Bad Lashes and Girlband deserve to be voted off? No and yes, as I said in my previous: X-Factor: The Final 12 review the groups were the weakest category thanks to Louis picking two girl groups but then he didn’t have a lot of choice. Bad Lashes though didn’t deserve to be in the bottom two or in fact in the bottom one, as the first (and indeed second) contest went to deadlock, both groups got the lowest viewer votes which proves that the viewers have no discernible taste as Bad Lashes’ version of Wonderwall was ten times better than Girlband’s choice of ‘That’s What Friends are For.’ The new twist of course is the sing-off in which the acts chose the song that will get them through to the next round when they win them round with their awesome performance but so far this twist has proved null and void with the judges failing to make a decision on the final both times and it going down to viewer voting. The viewer voting seems to be a bit odd because although this is the strongest year I don’t see why blatant pub singer Daniel Evans is still getting through while brilliant Spanish songbird Ruth Lorenzo had to sing for survival with her passionate rendition of Prince’s Purple Rain. I think Lorenzo should be a favourite for this competition but as the main voters of this programme are middle-aged women and nans, a girl of Ruth’s age and attractiveness will go early as we’ve seen with the girl groups.
But the reason Daniel has stayed in is because the show has little to do with performances any more, Daniel has a sob story (wife died after kid was born single dad blah blah), Bad Lashes and Girl Band had none of that so have sailed away. But it is an interesting year because I reckon it’s the strongest apart from a few who are still there (Daniel and Scott) it’s a good year. I’ve already mentioned JLS and these boys have got the performance side down but according to Judge Death Cowell they have ‘tuning issues’. As well as Ruth and Daniel in her category Danniiiii (never remember how many I’s are at the end of her name) has Rachel Hylton. We all remember Rachel from the auditions 26 with 6 kids, drugs, prison but has a really soulful voice. So what does miss Minogue have her singing in the first week that song ‘And it Hurt’s with every heartbeat’ a vapid dance tune with no soul. And last week’s Michael Jackson contest could’ve been a chance to showcase her soulful voice but instead she went for one of Jackson’s lesser known rockier anthems. I’m a big fan of Rachel’s but she needs to strip away the gimmicks and in Saturday’s big band week just sing her heart out. Of the boys we’ve got monotonous Scott, dull hunk Austin and nan’s favourite Eioghan (Owen) of these Austin is quite talented but unsure, Scott is just a bit of nothing and although he’s very young Eioghan is one of my tips for the final. Another thing about Austin which I’ve just realised is that he’s been on T.V. before along with Russ from Scooch and the guy from ‘Fast Food Rockers’ they pretended to be a female pop group in the show ‘Boys can be Girls’ and he wonders where the gay rumours come from?
As I pointed out the fact that girls are big voters in this competition means that girls are rarely in the final. The only ever female winner was Leona while the only other woman ever to be in a final was the girl out of that horribly incestuous brother/sister act last year. But its then interesting to find that this year the girls are the strongest category and all three are the top three in the bookies rankings. Alexandra Burke was turned down three years ago by Louis although so far she’s been predictable with her song choices and I think she’ll be the first of the three girls to go. Then there’s Laura White tipped by last year’s fluke winner Leon Jackson, Laura pouts and warbles a lot, not to say that she isn’t incredibly talented because she is and she’ll get far. But my favourite of the three and the current bookies favourite is Diana Vickers. Diana looks really really tiny, is very dainty and sings in a weird acoustic fashion that kind of works with the two songs she’s chosen – U2’s With or Without You and Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror. If she just stop putting her hands up in the air with every note then she’s got a good chance to win.
But again this year the rivalry between Simon and Louis is dominating the show and over shining the acts in a way. It must be put on because why would Simon rehire Louis just so they could bicker on live T.V. in a way. Louis so defensive towards Simon he’ll even defend other acts that aren’t in his category. The two whimpering brunettes in the middle just give compliments and cry and say things like ‘box fresh’ but its Simon’s show so Simon gets what Simon wants. We all watch The X-Factor because we want to criticise the performances, the song choices and the viewer’s decision at the end. Whoever the winner’s going to be this year as long, as it’s not Scott or Daniel, I’ll be happy there’s no Same Difference/McDonald Brothers/Journey South siblings act or weak pretty boys like Leon. Instead we’ve got talented girls, a really good boyband, a Spanish firecracker, a soulster whose desperate for the right song, a young hopeful and the hunk who’s not gay. Whoever wins I’ll be watching.
But who’s better Simon or Louis there’s only way to find out, Fight!!!! No not really that little interlude signals the fact that Harry Hill’s back this week. The new series is going to be running well into the new year and its clear that Hill’s on fine form. Taking the mick out of everything from The Restaurant to the ridiculous Hole in the Wall. The best thing is the guests he seems to have on some are quite big – Dermot O’Leary but most are extras on soaps or so-called ‘guest stars’ on quiz shows who turn out to be unheard of ballerinas. There are of course plenty of mockable shows any survival expert who sulf-sufficiency nut usually gets it in the neck from Hill take note Bear Grylls, Ray Mears and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Harry Hill is great because he brings surrealism into the mainstream most of his jokes are bizarre but accessible and the end song always has me in stitches. ITV1 took a big risk putting Harry Hill on, on the Saturday night line-up but the gamble has paid off with millions of viewers and two Baftas. But Hill’s just happy that there’s another series of Freaky Eaters on the way.
I’m going to end this week looking at a show I covered previously and I’m talking about excellent comedy-drama Sunshine. Written by Early Doors scribes Craig Cash and Phil Mealey, the show featured Steve Coogan as a compulsive gambler who loses his wife, his house and his job through gambling although the two constants in his life are his son and his dad (who calls his son and grandson – Sunshine hence the name). Mealey and Cash are brilliant writers combining the tragedy of having an addiction with the warm Northern humour that they’re known for. Almost the entire cast of Early Doors featured in one of the three episodes some in major roles (Cash and Mealey played Coogan’s co-workers while Lisa Millett who had a minor role in Early Doors played Coogan’s wife). The final episode played the light and shade aspect brilliantly as Coogan’s Bing tried to get his life back on track attending Gambler’s Anonymous and bonding with his son as his son scored a penalty in his football match. The second half of the show though focused on the death of Bing’s dad played by Bernard Hill who had a tumour but hadn’t told his family. He slipped in and out of consciousness as he told Bing he was proud of him and told his wife to get back with him. It all ended nicely with the family unit back as one and the granddad leaving a final message in the garden with flowers. Although soppy and sentimental at times this show worked because of its pace and its balance and even though Cash is coming back with Caroline Aherne and the rest of the bunch to write another Royle Family Christmas special he and Mealey should try and write some more comedy drama because judging by their first effort their bloody good at it.
Next Time: Little Dorrit, Britannia High and Dead Set