I’m afraid this is a rather short instalment of This Week in TV as everything noteworthy happened on the other side of the Bank Holiday weekend but nonetheless we have a couple of gems for you.
We start though with a return that was getting the internet communality buzzing and that return came in the form Red Dwarf with its three-part special entitled Back to Earth which aired exclusively on Dave. In the special the boys go to Earth after a regeneration project goes wrong and they end up finding out that they’re actually characters in a TV show and have to track down their creator to beg for more episodes. It started okay, when they were on the Red Dwarf ship, although the loss of the canned laughter made it feel not just right. As with the hollow set most of the gags bounced off the wall although some were pretty funny. Although it all went downhill when the boys went back to Earth, they visited a comic book store where a nerd told them their story and then on a bus where some kids told Lister that an entire channel had been named after him (Dave incidentally the same channel that was showing the show). Things took an ironic turn when Craig Charles showed up playing himself along with Steve MacDonald and David Platt’s girlfriend when the Red Dwarf gang headed up to Coronation Street. The whole thing just slapped of post-modernism but not in a good way, by the time ‘The Creator’ showed up and told them it was just a big homage to Blade Runner I was upset that a once great sitcom had come to this. The fact that we found out that they were actually dreaming and we were the dream which all had something to do with some squid. All in all it was good to have the fellas back but if they return again they need to stay on the ship, and we don’t care for post-modernism in Red Dwarf we just want a laugh.
Also this week BBC2 introduced us to The Speaker an interesting show in which Jo Brand, an ex-Basketball player and a RADA coach presided over a series of auditions in which teenagers talked about everything and nothing. Apparently the point of this programme was to find the next bright young voice but what they got was a lot of piffle. For example the boy who came to voice his dislike about Rihanna’s umbrella or the boy who just wanted to talk about himself and probably launch himself as a stand-up. There was then the ‘issues’ from graffiti and drugs, to curly vs straight hair, all were deconstructed by a fairly reasonable panel. As a judge, Brand was a dry as ever and she was the name on this otherwise non-starry effort, unless you count the celebrity advisors which included Dragons’ Den’s moody maternal figure Deborah Meaden. There were some bright sparks in this effort there was the girl who spoke about her life where she could’ve gone into care but was saved by her grandmother her speech was all about how much she loved her grandmother because of this and was a lot better about the squirm-inducing speech from a girl talking about teen love with her mum watching on a video screen in the back, what would’ve been better would be a revelation of pregnancy during a speech or something like that. My favourite by far at the auditions was Laura a very plain girl who dressed individually and bigged up being a geek. She was likeable, witty and very fluent but she got knocked out in later rounds because she couldn’t speak about random speakers. And there lies the rub with The Speaker, not all about oratory but about finding someone who has style but not substance. Another problem was who is this actually pitched at? Teenagers probably don’t want to watch kids they would probably pick on on the school playground or run away from. And adults will probably not want to watch kids go on about random subjects but at the same time Britain’s Got Talent gets mega-ratings and that defies logic either. Anyway The Speaker isn’t a show that has a very strong voice and one wonders why it ever appeared on the schedule at all.
Finally and a lot stronger was Channel 4’s The Hospital, a show in which doctors, nurses and midwives got to bitch about difficult patients mainly teenagers (they’re everywhere at the moment). In the episode I watched the focus was on teen mums in particular those who were a bit difficult because if the programme was all about those who followed the rules there would be no programme. There was one Brummie girl in particular who seemed to irk the Scottish midwife, she wouldn’t stop smoking and even nipped out for a fag hours after the kid was born. This girl was one who actually wanted a baby ever since she was 14 (she was 17 now) and the baby’s father was a bit of an idiot, not realising that after three months it was okay for trying for a baby with a girl who was very domineering and was baby-mad. Days after the birth she was regretting her decision and this seemed to be a recurring theme for these girls, most of whom had received a ‘surprise package’ from having sex just the once. One girl was surprised she got knocked up after really wanting sex on a night out clubbing. There was one girl though who was really pleased she got knocked up because she never thought she could love something so much, but she did and this provided a sweet moment in otherwise bleak show. Although the girls were the focus, it was the hospital professionals that basically had lost their patience (pardon the pun) with these girls. They revealed that a lot of the time it was more than their jobs worth to keep struggling through convincing the teens to shape up if they wanted to become mums. The procedures were revealed and the grievances aired and it was all very eye-opening but the message was that teen girls shouldn’t get knocked up because they’re not ready for it is something we already know. The Hospital was a very good programme in that the hospital workers got to break their silence but a predictable subject like teen motherhood has been covered a lot before.
Next Time: Britain’s Got Talent, Doctor Who and Hell’s Kitchen