We start this week with a little bit of comedy in the form of Jennifer Saunders’ W.I. comedy Jam and Jerusalem which returns for its second series. . When this show first started I wasn’t a big fan I found it very broad with quite a few characters who weren’t accessible citing Joanna Lumley’s elderly church organist as a perfect example. However at the start of the second series they got rid of Lumley and toned down Dawn French’s village simpleton Rosie. This was good because there was a good story at the heart of this show which saw doctor’s wife Sue Johnston widowed in the first episode and then kicked out of her job as a nurse by her son (David Mitchell) who took over the surgery and replaced his mother with his wife. With very little to do she was encouraged to join the W.I. which opened her up to a world of weird and wonderful characters. However as the second series went on it became more about Sal’s life and that of her family mostly her daughter whose romance with fellow hippie Spike dominated that series. However when series three comes round it sees Sal seeking something more in her life. She has been given her job back on a part-time basis but with her daughter settled down she has no-one else to care for. The first episode introduces the new plot of the barn at the top of Sal’s garden being converted and a new Scottish builder Jock who makes an impression on the W.I. ladies. Of course there is a bit of banter between Jock and Sal which will probably mean eventually that she will find love with him. The rest of the ladies are also all over him after they find out that he knows Charles Dance (famous British actor).
I have to say that this show improves with every series, Jennifer Saunders (who also has a small role as well as co-writing) has got the balance right between jolly humour and everyday life. Sue Johnston is always wonderful and excels here basically playing the rural Barbara Royle if with a little more backbone and no-one as good as Ricky Tomlinson to bounce off. The other actors are all supporting players however Dawn French’s Rosie has gone from being annoying to a bit more well-rounded while Pauline ‘Mrs. Doyle’ McLean’s Tip has found a natural home behind the bar after working as the receptionist at the doctor’s surgery. The show has also found its natural home in hourly slots on Sunday nights and is a great replacement for the show that was there before, the dire Hope Springs. I think on the basis of the first hourly show this may be the way forward for Jam and Jerusalem.
The second returning comedy is Would I Lie to You? Which is basically Have I got News for You? meeting Call my Bluff. Bizarrely this programme also stars David Mitchell who’s been having a busy time of it recently as he has also been tracing back his family tree on Who Do You Think You Are? The format of WILTY sees two team captains, Mitchell and Not Going Out’s Lee Mack, welcome two special guests each week and each of them take it turns to read out a never before seen statement on a card and the other team has to guess if it is true or if it’s a lie. So for example did Larry ‘Archie Mitchell’ Lamb used to sell hats for dogs and did Carol Vorderman really play a game with the props guys on Countdown where they had to touch the tip of her marker during the numbers round. The show survives on the fact that it doesn’t have just comics on, true panel show mainstay Russell Howard has been on about three times but with guests like Lamb and Vorderman you believe that they may have had a chequered past. One of the later rounds involves a person coming out who has a link to one of the three contestants and again the other team has to guess who is telling the truth. Another tweak to the series is that host Angus Deyton has left/been replaced and Rob Brydon is now at the helm a bit ironic since he used to play himself as the host of a passé panel show. I’m not saying that this show is passé in fact Mack and Mitchell have a good North/South divide going and Brydon is a lot less patronising a host than Deyton was so overall this makes for good viewing.
Justin Lee Collins needs a new project after his ITV2 chat show completely flopped. I’m guessing that’s why he has decided to do anything Sky One tell him to in a programme simply called Justin Lee Collins and then what he is doing that week. For example Justin Lee Collins: West End Star and Justin Lee Collins: Diver are two future programmes but I will be looking at Justin Lee Collins: Wrestler. JLC starts by going to a local wrestling show only to be heckled by one of the arsy female wrestlers who chastised him for trying to steal her thunder. From there it was off to Mexico to watch the Mexican masked wrestlers known as luchadors wrestle a show as that was the plan for him. His training sessions took place in Mexico under the watchful eye of transsexual wrestler Cassandro, who was very nearly signed up for TNA under the name Andromeda. JLC and Cassandro had very funny banter between them as Cassandro explained the significance of the mask and told the bearded one that he would have to come up with a name for himself and that he did ‘El Glorioso’ where he would prance around the ring and big himself up before getting beaten up by his good guy opponents. It really all built up to an anticlimax where JLC as Glorioso wrestled Cassandro at a Lucha Libre event in London. Collins really didn’t seem that he’d enjoyed himself that much and therefore it wasn’t always enjoyable watching him. One of JLC’s big drawing points his larger-than-life persona and attitude but here he was showing the softer side of himself with a lot of segments with his son Archie. At the end of the day this show will be as enjoyable as Collins makes it and having watched the second episode I can say that he enjoys being a West End star much more than being a wrestler.
I’ll wrap this first one up by looking at Dolce Vito – Dream Restaurant a show which follows the work of Italian born Vito Cataffo as he tries to open a British restaurant in his native country. This is the kind of show where you know what’s going to happen straight away with some trials and tribulations along the way Vito will eventually make his dream a reality. For example in this opening episode he tries to find a venue and although there is one which he can quite afford including the renovations he decides to buy one which is a complete shit-heap and needs a complete overhaul which will cost almost double what the other one will. Why you ask? Well because it makes good T.V. if the protagonist has to go through financial suffering to make his dream happen. As well as this Vito goes back to England to see some dairy farmers make cheese in Somerset and help them out before bringing them back over to Italy again. There then followed a five minute sequence in which the Italian natives tasted some cheddar cheese with most enjoying it apart from one man who said it stuck like glue to the top of his mouth. Most of the time Vito strides around like an Italian Phil Collins on ecstasy his mannerisms do grate to an extent but at the same time he exudes charisma so not hard to dislike him. Of course with the show predominantly being set in Italy a lot of the dialogue is subtitled however to jazz up the usual boring task of reading subtitles the production company seems to have decided to put the words in different colours and fonts and have them fly across the screen. So although this formula has been seen before at least they’ve tried something unique with the subtitles so well done!
Next Time: The Trouble with Girls and The Autistic Me