Welcome back to another week of TV highlights from the week just gone.
Last year Channel 4 bought back The Family a show originally transmitted on BBC2 in the 1970s. It saw us delve into the lives of The Hughes family – forty Something Parents and four kids. Although out of the kids it was stroppy middle daughter Emily who was the star of the show but on the whole it was quite dull. To reflect our multi-cultural society the new series presents us with three generations of The Anglo-Asian family The Grewals. The first episode was primarily built around the 35 year old marriage between parents Arvinder and Sarbjit. We get the kind of idea of their relationship when Arvinder is on his exercise bike, he shouts up to his sleeping wife ‘cup of tea’ when she refuses to wake up he rings on his mobile phone. Although the comedy comes from the parents its eldest son Sunny who is involved in the drama with his wife-to-be Shay. Shay has been estranged from her mother for five years after she disapproved of her daughter’s relationship with Sunny which stems from her thinking that their family was of a higher standing in the Sikh religion than The Grewals. During the first episode Sunny and Shay go to make contact with Shay’s brother to invite him and their mother to the couple’s Indian Wedding however no progress was made which left Shay upset and ready to be comforted by Sarbjit. Also in the family are layabout son Tindy who has never cooked or washed a shirt in his life and the yet unseen daughter Kaki, her husband Jeet and the first of the Grewal grandchildren Bhavi.
Always with this type of show you always have the thought in the back of your mind that a lot of the situations are stage-managed. For example Shay’s reaction to the meeting with her brother because we don’t see it we don’t know whether to take her word for it. Also at times Sanjit and Arvinder’s bickering seems a little over-the-top at times although it is very funny and may well be real. Overall the Grewals are a lot more interesting than the Hughes family. Shay and Sunny are very much in love and this is a very sweet story fraught with conflict, Shay is very much a modern woman and completely different from the rest of the Grewals. The undoubted star of the show is Sanjit, she could be any mother running round after her demanding husband and layabout son her maternal instincts come naturally and it’s lovely to see those kind of family values in this day and age. I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode and that’s before we’ve met all of the family from what I’ve seen son-in-law Jeet looks like another classic character. In a year where Big Brother was full of disappointments, could it be that we’ve finally given up watching fame-hungry freaks and are after something more natural? If so then that’s what you’ll get on Wednesday nights with The Grewals.
If there’s one actor who you can’t accuse of being typecast its Andrew Buchan. He first came to our attention on BBC2′s Party Animals playing a sleazy tory campaigner and brother to future Doctor Who Matt Smith and more recently he has been playing the cold ruthless hitman on ITV1′s The Fixer. Now he’s been given his first BBC primetime gig in the typical cosy Sunday night slot playing William Garrow in Garrow’s Law. The set-up is that Garrow revolutionised the way that law is practised by sticking up for the accused and actually questioning the witnesses before letting them hang. Garrow is passionate and sceptical of all the witnesses for the prosecution as he is sure that they are out for a quick buck and is ready to defend the poor and helpless who he believes to be innocent. Garrow’s only allies are his mentor Southouse (played by Alun Armstrong doing his usual autumn period drama stint in between series of New Tricks) and the beautiful Lady Hill who is a social reformer and probably heading into Garrow’s love life at some point during the series. Of course he is ridiculed by the prosecution and often shouted at by the judge for actually defending the accused but Garrow always comes up on top. Thanks to a convincing lead performance by Buchan, Garrow’s Law is a rise above the usual Sunday night costume parade. An interesting and lively script and convincing period scenery also add to the show and all in all it almost played like Law and Order: 1790. While it’s not going to ever win a BAFTA or anything Garrow’s Law is still an entertaining way to spend a Sunday night.
New comedy now from the Comedy Showcase stable which in 2007 gave us The Kevin Bishop Show as well as the sitcoms Free Agents and Plus One which have both been broadcast this year. Destined to join them as a full series is Campus a show written by Victoria Pile best known for being the creator of Green Wing. Like with Green Wing we get a sort of faux-documentary set in a university rather than a hospital. There are very broad characters the English teacher who sleeps with all his students and struggles to come up with ideas when asked to write a book. The scientist who notes down all her thoughts on a Dictaphone. The young maths lecturer who has just been published, the ditzy accommodations officer and the finance officer who is in love with her. Star of the show is Andy Nyman best remembered as the obnoxious producer on last year’s Dead Set here as the odd Vice Chancellor of the university. At first he comes across as a David Brent rip-off but as it goes on he becomes more and more surreal, Brent always cared what people thought but the VC doesn’t care even at one point trying to convince a student to commit suicide. Some of the jokes didn’t hit the mark but Campus was quite sweet and funny in equal measures and it being filmed at my old alma matter of Brunel which I have to swear allegiance to it outright.
And finally we come to something which was quite laughable it may almost seem like a comedy show, it was the jewel in the crown of Sky 1′s Michael Jackson night and in Michael Jackson: The Live Séance, Derek Acorah did actually contact The King of Pop himself. Or so we were lead to believe. I missed the pre-show build-up in which June ‘Too old for T4′ Sarpong and David ‘friend of the Jackson family’ Gest waxed lyrical about how Jackson was ready to listen to a scouse twat. Then over to Acroah with four Jacko super fans (one who was actually dressed as MJ) who were particpating in the séance and some doctor in the corner who asked Derek various questions. What made me question it was that Acorah started by doing the Jacko voice in which he asked for someone to say hello to Quincy Jones for him and talked about how he was it peace with his grandparents. But as it went on he slipped into scouse again and went on about the tabloid’s lies about Jackson and then gave personal messages to each of the fans which afterwards they said that no-one could’ve known that apart from Jackson. The Doctor rudely cut Derek off as he came out of his trance. Overall very rushed and impersonal (unless you were at the séance), this was just another reason to give people the right to question mediums and the like. It wasn’t particularly entertaining and gripping and instead was ridden with clichés and lots of crying Jacko fans with far too much time on their hands. Although as car crash TV this was absolutely perfect.
Next Time: Collision, Misfits and Miranda