Oddly This Week in TV has a strange Channel Five-centric vibe something that I never thought would happen but there you go.
The first Channel Five offering was a take on BBC One’s The One Show to the point where it also featured its channel’s number in the title of the show. Live from Studio Five was billed as a live discussion show which meant various news items discussed as well as special guests coming on promoting things and shouting about life in general. To outdo Chiles and Bleakley on One, Live from Studio Five had three presenters. Ian ‘Wrighty’ Wright is happy that this show has come along right after Sky One’s Gladiators had been cancelled and even more happy as he has been joined by two smiling insipid blondes. The first is aging glamour girl Melinda Messenger and the second is Staffordshire’s own Kate ‘Off the Apprentice‘ Walsh. The first problem with the show is the set, it feels very claustrophobic these three people seemed to be squashed around a desk and it’s even worse when there’s a guest with them. At least with The One Show you have sofas and a kind of comfy atmosphere whereas on LFSF it feels almost like a sports news type show and Wrighty’s presence doesn’t help. Yes what of the three presenters, well we all know what Ian Wright is like, he prefers shouting to talking and always tries to talk about football which of course elicited groans from the girls. Double M was known mainly for her Double Ds and has since been presenting shows about babies and cowboy builders why she was chosen for this show is beyond belief. Maybe it’s because Kate off The Apprentice couldn’t handle it on her own, there has been a trend of ex-Apprentices getting presenting jobs but Kate doesn’t have the toughness of a Badger, the smugness of a Katie Hopkins or the awesomeness of Raef. She is one of The Apprentices who should go back to working in marketing and smiling profusely not presenting a Live discussion show and being hit on by Danny Dyer. If anyone from this year’s Apprentice should’ve got a show it should’ve been James. The content of the show ranged from news-based topics to whether the audience would be watching X-Factor or Strictly. The audience sent in texts but there wasn’t many texts read out which added to the cheap not very watchable quality of the show. In fact the tackiness was heaped on in days one and two in which Jordan and Peter Andre appeared on separate shows and continued to berate each other. Then again Andre is a hot guest at the moment and even Jonathan Ross had him on on his programme last Friday. But Wright, Messenger and Off The Apprentice had none of the Ross like appeal and the ratings for this show have already sunk in the first week. Not a good sign.
The second show continued with Five’s obsession with farm-based programming, of course we all remember Rebecca Loos tossing off a pig and the bizarre rows that Flava Flav had with Orville the Duck during two seasons of The Farm. Well now Five have given us a new dating show entitled Farmer Wants a Wife hosted by the ever lovely Louise Redknapp. The show apparently first appeared all the way back in 2001 however I don’t remember it but obviously Five have picked up the rights and thought it was about time to revive the dating show. In the first episode 30 year old Farmer Derek is presented with four beauties Canadian Karla who talked about how good in bed she was every five minutes, weird Russian feng shui expert Anna, Hannah who is the youngest of the group and wholesome Home Counties girl Sarah. After what seems like five minutes Derek makes the easy decision of getting Anna off his property as soon as possible and also getting rid of Hannah. This leaves Karla and Anna to do some manual labour and then ride around Derek’s farm in a tractor while fluttering their eyes and telling Derek how many children they will bear him if they win the show. Although I didn’t’ know it was about procreating it seems a bit kinky as the two girls have to share a bed together and later on both girls appear in Derek’s bed but apparently he was a gentleman and no hanky panky went on. Acting as a simple narrator, Redknapp muscles her way in for a portion of the show and chats with the girls to find out how much they want this before questioning Derek who seems to have settled on Sarah. However a last minute change of heart sees him settle on Karla, a decision that Sarah is okay with as long as Karla goes for it and doesn’t wast the opportunity, Sarah’s parting words are that she will kill Karla if she doesn’t shack up with Derek. This is where the show got a bit weird as Karla decided to go to Australia for three months with her work but instead of killing her, Sarah stepped in almost straight away and got with Derek making the whole picking process redundant. There was something quaint about Farmer Wants a Wife apart from setting the feminist movement back about fifty years it was just a bit nice apart from the bed-sharing it was all about who would be the best mother, cook and tractor driver. The presence of Louise Redknapp added to the niceness as she is impossible not to like put in the hands of a Fearne Cotton or Davina McCall this could’ve descended into another loud and bawdy horrible programme but I kind of liked it. Maybe this will be the renaissance of the dating show and Blind Date will be revived once again with Cilla and Our Graham.
Finally two sitcoms the first is a very poor effort from BBC2 and even more strange a new sitcom which didn’t debut on BBC3 first before coming over to one of the major channels. In Home Time 29 year old Gaynor returns to her parent’s Coventry home after leaving just before her 18th birthday and going to London without much explanation to either her friends or her family. The first episode dealt with her friend’s reactions there was the terminally two-faced Mel who on the face of it had moved on but at the same time was still living at home paying a tenner in rent and working as a babysitter. The big fish in the gang was Becky who wondered why anyone wanted to leave Coventry as it is where she is queen, she is almost a little jealous of Gaynor’s freedom and now is free to lord over her small success on Gaynor’s return. Completing the group was Kelly played by Louise from Pulling (who should be something more than this) the happy-go-lucky drunken member of the gang. Meanwhile Gaynor’s mother had put on an Irish accent and her father played by Philip Jackson was just glad she’d come back. The main problem with Home Time was that Gaynor was very mute most of the time, her reason for coming back was unclear and her friends were the ones doing most of the talking. Possibly the only likeable characters were Kelly and Gaynor’s father as the rest where either too up themselves or just too reserved while Gaynor as a central character was just not that interesting. There were some good gags and some good cultural references to the late nineties – indie music, new labour, Union Jack Dress but overall this just didn’t have it what it takes to be a major channel sitcom and is very reminiscent of last year’s equally mediocre Beautiful People.
Thank God then for the return of Peep Show, Mitchell and Webb’s marvellous sitcom which will now become Channel 4′s longest running sitcom after Drop the Dead Donkey, although as a seventh series has already been commissioned it will soon take the record. If you love Peep Show then you won’t be disappointed, after a fairly solid if plot-light fifth series, series six returns with several big stories. Firstly Mark’s company has been shut down by its German sister company just after Mark had got his own office, which sees him eventually working for Super Hans by the end of the day. Keen to impress new love interest Dobby he leads a revolt which he soon tries to quash when he gets a pay-off from Johnson. Meanwhile there are other plot developments, Mark and Jez have a new neighbour and of course Sophie will soon reveal which of the pair will be the father of her baby which I’m sure will result in more hilarity. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Peep Show, whereas most of the new comedy input this year has been dire there are a few fail safes and Mitchell and Webb have claimed that they will continue to star in this as long as writers Sam Bains and Jesse Armstrong can come up with ideas. Which I’m sure is good news for everyone everywhere.