As we head into the summer we have another fortnightly edition of This Week in TV as we look back on a varied two weeks of drama, game shows and chat.
As this fortnight bought us the second of the two Bank Holiday weekends we needed a big Bank Holiday drama luckily Sky One were on hand as they bought us Going Postal, their third Discworld adaptation after the fabulous Hogfather and the only okay Colour of Magic. For those unfamiliar with the tale it concerns Moist Von Lipwig a criminal living in Discworld’s major city of Ankh-Morpork, Moist is about to be hanged for his crimes when he is given a lifeline but Annk’s Patrician and agrees to be in charge of re-opening the Post Office, a task which seems rather ominous when you find how many post-masters have perished prior to Moist’s appointment. Moist’s main rival is Reacher Gilt who is in charge of the Claks Line, the Discworld equivalent of the Internet, and therefore in direct competition when it comes to delivering messages. Moist is also enchanted by the extremely cold Adora Dearheart who runs a golem-hiring business but begins to melt through Moist’s pursuit of her. As you would think with a Discworld adaptation the story is completely well-written and compelling but this is all about the translation to the screen which in my opinion was extremely well done. This is the first of Sky’s adaptations to feature Ankh prominently and it comes to life through the hustle and bustle of its extras and the believability of its sets. Some of the scenes are very well done, Moist being haunted by the Post Office’s undelivered letters was particular highlight, and it all flowed incredibly well. Of the cast Richard Coyle was able to make Moist a lively character both devious and likeable in equal measure while Claire Foy got all of Adora’ s mannerisms down to a tee. The supporting cast was full of familiar faces including Charles Dance, Tasmin Grieg, Dom Warrington, Andrew Sachs and best of all David Suchet as the devious moustache-twirling Reacher. This was pure Bank Holiday entertainment a big-budget spectacular and one which I hope there is more of in the future.
A very different drama was presented as part of BBC2′s 1980′s season, which last week gave us Royal Wedding, with Money the adaptation of Martin Amis’ novel about the greed and corruption that took place in the decade. Nick Frost starred in the lead role as John Self a commercial director who goes to L.A. to director his first feature with the help of producer Fielding Gooney. The story looks at Self’s progress, or lack there of, while trying to make his film – Good Money and at the same time being stalked by the anonymous Frank The Phone. We also get to have a look at Self’ life in London with his far from loyal girlfriend Selina who is having an affair with the husband of Martina, John’s would be love. Not having read the book myself I don’t know how faithful the translation was but I think the writing was pitched just right it gave us a portrait of a man who loved to over-indulge on food, women, booze and porn. Surrounded by posers and yes-men in L.A. this was transposed by Nick’s poor relationship with his father in London and again was done very well. The whole feel of the show from the filming, lighting, sets and music really gave the feel of the 1980s. This was by no means perfect it was fairly flabby in places and could’ve done with being a bit more fast-paced but the main thing it had going for it was its central performance from Nick Frost. Frost makes us pity the almost unlikeable Self by giving him a little humility amongst the bad habits that he portrays. This may well mark a departure from straight comic roles as Frost here demonstrated a yet unseen ability for dramatic work. Overall a fun dramatic piece which highlighted 1980s exhuberence.
Also all about the money was Davina McCall who gave us a hint at what she’ll be doing on Channel 4 after Big Brother finishes namely hosting an interactive game show in The Million Pound Drop Live. Yes it definitely was indeed live as Davina and Channel 4 told us over and over and over again. The basic concept of the show sure a couple, boyfriend and girlfriend, boyfriend and boyfriend, workmates, sisters etc., being presented with a million pounds in ‘cold hard cash’ and having to risk it over a series of eight questions. The million is separated into 40 bundles of £25,000, the opening questions have four possible answers, if the players aren’t completely sure of one of the answers they can spread their money over two or three options as each answer is next to a trapdoor. So for example if you risk all of you million on a right answer and its wrong then you lose all your money down the trapdoor but if you split it across three (you have to keep one clear) then you’ve got a better chance of making it the whole way. Of the shows I saw only one couple made it to question eight with quite a healthy sum but then thy lost it on the final question. The show is pretty good and makes use of the live element by asking certain questions about things that have happened that day or even about ads during one of the commercial breaks. Although very similar to a lot of things we’ve seen before as the contestants can actually see the money they are losing each round it becomes ever the more dramatic. Overall an interesting concept and one that looked original, Davina did alright and I think her place as one of Four’s main faces will stay in tact for now.
To end we stay on Channel 4 as we take a look at their replacement for the much-missed Paul O’Grady as they draft in a host of celebrities to try and help his teatime programme live on in the form of The 5 O’Clock Show. Although the programme could easily have been dubbed – Not The Paul O’Grady Show, as it features almost the same atmosphere and even the same general public members and crew from Joyce to Diggler to Osi (yes I was a bit obsessed by the O’Grady show). The set has changed but not drastically with the presenter’s desk and the sofa where the guests sit simply swapping places. The one main difference though is the host which differs from time to time. For example Fearne Britton got to host it for two weeks as did Pete Andre while Lenny Henry only did one week as did the unholy duo of Mel Sykes and Denise Van Outen while Phil and Kirsty got to do four days and Sonia From Eastenders only got one. The quality of the guests did dip slightly there were a couple of Americans – Andy Garcia and Mr Schue from Glee both popped in but a lot of the time the guests were far lowlier and it seems that O’Grady was right. I’m thinking that eventually Channel 4 will try and lure O’Grady back at the meantime he is happy just to take their money as the whole thing is produced by his company – Olga TV.
Next Time: Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show and When Romeo Met Juliet