Reviews

This Week in TV: The Brit Awards, The BAFTA Film Awards, Masterchef, The Elephant Life After Death, For Crying Out Loud and OK! TV

This week in TV we saw ceremonies, tears and cooking.

14BRIT11 IMG 9853Resized This Week in TV: The Brit Awards, The BAFTA Film Awards, Masterchef, The Elephant Life After Death, For Crying Out Loud and OK! TV
A couple of weeks ago we had an awards packed instalment with the NTAs and the Comedy Awards happening within mere days of each other. This week for a change we have… another two awards ceremonies and first up we have the BRIT Awards. Over the years the BRIT awards have a reputation for being overly-raucous or a being a bit boring and last year’s event fell into the latter category even though it had a big funny man at the helm in the form of Peter Kay. Another big funny man in the form of James Corden was chosen to host the organisers obviously thinking that he would lay on the gags but in fact for his first three or four segments he was fairly dour instead giving us the facts about the evening that the Brits would be focusing on the music and each winner would be presented with a Brit designed by Vivienne Westwood. To demonstrate this the ‘Best British Album’ award was focused on with mini-vignettes on all five nominees while Adele also showed what real music was with a performance which was just her and a piano and Mumford and Sons also did a low-key number also. But the big performances were there also as Take That kicked off the show accompanied by riot police who soon stripped off to reveal young dancers in their pants. Talking of pants Rhianna was there to do a medley of her ‘hits’, Plan B supposedly caused a controversy by setting a faux policeman on fire and Tinie Tempah also rolled out an entertaining medley. One thing I was upset with was there was no collaborations unless you count Cee-Lo Green being joined on stage by Paloma Faith who murdered her parts of his radio-friendly ‘Forget You’. Corden did liven up as the event went on highlights being him messing with Justin Bieber’s hair and also making reference to the Andy Gray/Richard Keys incident. I felt that he did a good job in charge with most of his jokes flowing naturally and a look on his face that he really appreciated being there. In terms of focusing on the music there was a good mix of winners Tinie Tempah took home two awards with Plan B, Take That, Rhianna, Cee-Lo and The Bieber all winning. Mumford and Sons triumphed as Best Album but if there were any indication that the Brits were a bit different this year it was in the fact that Arcade Fire picked up two awards and that Laura Marling beat Cheryl Cole and Ellie Goulding to be crowned Best British Female. All in all the awards felt a bit odd there was no controversy or big collaborations but instead a night of solid music and on the whole worthy winners which for me didn’t really feel like The Brit Awards at all.

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Over to the biggest night in the British film calendar as both the stars and the torrential rain arrived outside London’s Royal Opera House. I very much enjoy watching the BAFTA red carpet on BBC News 24 as the American stars step out of the cars and seem to wonder why they’ve decided to journey to England when they could’ve just stayed in the sun. While the Oscars is always quite glamorous, the BAFTAs is always seems fairly sedate and stuffy. Save an opening performance from the cast of Streetdance there wasn’t much in the way of entertainment while host Jonathan Ross‘ jokes didn’t really hit the mark and his comment about locking the doors to keep out Ricky Gervais getting the biggest ovation of the night. Of course The King’s Speech was the night’s big winner which I can’t really complain about but I did have one issue and that was it winning both Best Film and Best British Film. Yes it is a British Film but usually a smaller film wins this award and I think a Four Lions or Made in Dagenham would’ve deserved it more. Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, the latter of whom wasn’t present, also both deserved to win however I still feel that Lesley Manville should’ve got the Supporting Actress award that went to Helena Bonham Carter although the eventual winner did deliver one of the night’s best moments as her speech went on forever. The nights other big winners weren’t present as Best Actress Natalie Portman was busy being pregnant and Best Director David Fincher was busy butchering The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo which ironically took home Best Foreign Language Film. Inception picked up a few technical awards and Alice in Wonderland got both Costumes and Hair and Make Up but really the night did belong to The King’s Speech. In terms of big moments there was only two that would spring to mind the first being when the Teleprompter starting malfunctioning and Rosamund Pike and Dominic Cooper had to start ad-libbing and almost read out the winner of their award before the nominees had been shown. The other moment was Sir Christopher Lee receiving the BAFTA fellowship and he gave a masterclass in how to accept an award being both dignified and gracious. It is amazing how old he looked and how he was struggling to walk to be fair to the man he is 88 and he is still working but it was also evident how old age can affect the brain as Lee described Tim Burton as ‘one of the greatest directors of our generation’ when in fact Burton hasn’t made an original film in about seven years. Overall though the BAFTAs was fairly predictable and uninspiring event and I think we should take notes from our American cousins and screen the event live I won’t have another rant about the BBC’s treatment of the awards but they really need to show it a bit more respect.

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Something that the BBC has given some respect to so much so that it has been shifted from BBC2 to BBC1 is Masterchef which returned with its biggest series yet. The kitchen is now bigger and more mahogany then ever and gone is the invention tests instead the wannabe Masterchefs have to prepare their meals in a kitchen in front of their friends and families before doing the last ten minutes in front of John and Gregg. Even though they are on BBC1 John and Gregg haven’t made any efforts to update their image John’s face actually matches with the new kitchen decor while Gregg doesn’t seem to have cut back on the puddings or pies. The whole auditions episodes did have a whiff of X-Factor about them as the two judges made their deliberations and then had to decide separately if a contestant was to get through or not. Both men had obviously been perfecting their dramatic pauses so for example John was like I’m afraid it’s…a no while Gregg was all ‘I’m…. going to take a chance on you.’ If the two men were not able to come to a decision then those who got one vote each would return for a second cook-off with two contestants getting through this time. If the format remains the same next year may I suggest a third judge perhaps Nigella who could whip out the innuendos. One way in how the two Masterchef men differ from other reality T.V. judges is that in that they don’t give into sob stories for example a mum of four didn’t get through because she had lumpy mash while others who claimed ‘I really need this’ were also shown the door. I was surprised that Gregg didn’t give a second chance to a rather amply-bosomed girl who made a trifle, even though everything went wrong for her I thought this would be his ideal woman. While watching the contestants finish their preparations, Gregg almost seemed like an over-excited businessman at a strip club peering through one of the holes to see ladies taking their clothes off. This series of Masterchef did have an impressive sheen on top the new kitchens do look nice and there is a sense that this is going to be a bit different. But at the same time do us Masterchef fans want something different? The invention test has gone to be replaced by mundane interviews and cutaway shots from the loved-ones of the wannabe contestants while India Fisher’s narration is more expositional than ever. Masterchef is always one of those shows that I sort of half-follow and despite the changes it has convinced me that I need to watch the 20 finalists over the next two months or so.

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From feasting on Upside Down Pear Puddings and Japanese-flavoured chicken we go to the biggest delicacy on offer this week – a massive Dead Elephant. Channel 4′s one-off programme The Elephant: Life After Death was obviously for people who didn’t think their Inside Nature’s Giants programme was intrusive enough. The Guidance Warning on 4OD basically is also provides all the information you need to know about the show – Graphic scenes of how the elephant’s body is part of the cycle of life in the animal food chain. In fact the elephant in question was put down and has now been placed in a riverside location by biologist Simon Watt and his team of experts to see what manner of wildlife will feed on the elephant now it is dead. Well the answer to this came fairly early as a pack of hyenas starting gorging on the anal cavities of the beast as it was the easiest place to start chewing. From there on it was mainly the hyenas who picked across the elephant but a leopard had a good go also. This was more about the ‘circle of life’ as we saw maggots and flies tucking into the easy to reach innards of the elephant birds starting flocking around to eat the insects. As an elephant being eaten wasn’t enough to sustain 60 plus minutes of programming the biologists were also exploring the natural habitat and the fact that the elephant was being eaten by lions or by vultures the lack of which got one of the team worried in particular. At the end of the day this programme did present a more interesting and fast-paced look at African animal wildlife than say David Attenboroguh’s Madagascar. But at the same time I did feel it drag on a bit after the initial excitement of the first bunch of hyena feedings. I can appreciate the value of a programme like this and I enjoyed it more than Inside Nature’s Giants which was more about simply looking at the bones and such, but at the same time I don’t know if it really justified me spending an hour or so of my time digesting it.

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From elephants to crying, I can’t think of a link there, as Jo Brand fronts a one-off BBC4 documentary entitled For Crying Out Loud. At the start of the programme Brand starts by asking ‘why I’m so interested in crying?’ to which my answer would be ‘so you can appear on the T.V. for an hour to find out’. But in fact that is unfair I really enjoy Jo Brand I find her both funny and very intelligent and that I suppose is why she has survived in the male-centric world of stand-up comedy for so long. It also seems that Brand is very interested in crying both in the evolutionary reasons and more-so the social reasons in that it has become acceptable to cry out loud. This is also a personal journey she talks to her friends and her mum to decide whether it is something to do with her age and up-bringing she talks to male friends such as Phil Jupitus and Richard E Grant she visits the football and the cinema places in which people are allowed to publicly try and in possibly the film’s weirdest scenes she visits an underground club in London in which she is literally forced to cry by a man wearing in a dress rubbing Onion juice into her eyes. Brand’s final visit is the most personal as she goes to see a psychiatrist that she once berated and has a frank one-to-one chat about the reasons she found it so hard to cry. But at the end of the film, despite looking like she was going to tear up in the therapist’s office, didn’t cry and instead went off on her merry way without giving us any conclusions to speak of. I found For Crying Out Loud quite a thoughtful and personal film it dealt with Brand’s inability to cry and also the reasons why a lot of us find it easy. Personally I often find myself tearing up stupid things like films and T.V. but I can’t remember the time where I had a proper good cry. This got me thinking a lot about why people cry and the ways in which their brains work in order to do it. It also gave me a big appreciation for Jo Brand as a person and I think I like her even more than I did before I watched the show.

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Finally this week we have one of Richard Desmond’s new projects now that he has come to Channel Five. Desmond of course is the man in charge of OK! Magazine so it seemed inevitable that he would use his newly acquired T.V. station to flog one of his publications, some of his more top-shelf offerings will have to wait it seems, so we have OK! TV which replaces the much-loved by me Live From Studio Five. However the launch of OK! TV was plagued with disaster from the off as original host Denise Van Outen pulled out suddenly giving some excuse that she couldn’t fit into her schedules but really it seems that she thought that it would drag her career down the toilet. So to fill her shoes Desmond looked far and wide and then cast Kate Walsh The Apprentice candidate who had been the only host to stay on Studio Five from day one. Walsh joined Welsh Dreamboat Matt Johnson as sort of Steve Jones look-alike who combines cheesy humour with a winning smile so basically he is Steve Jones. The edition of OK! TV I watched was the post-Brits episode in which the celebrity correspondent told us about the Plan B ‘controversy’ and also about Cheryl Cole’s ‘girl crush’ on Rhianna so basically nothing that we couldn’t have learned without watching the show ourselves. Then there was a piece on Miley Cyrus being a bit out of control and dad Billy Ray cursing Satan for turning his daughter into the leather-clad harpie she is today. A Boy George interview which was fairly interesting was then cancelled out by Big Brother Winner Josie coming on just to read some tweets. Finally Johnson was utterly embarrassed by the comedians who are bringing out crisps for Comic Relief, a segment with a Welsh man trying crisps on T.V. doesn’t seem to be the best thing to watch. The worst thing about this though is that OK! TV, like Live from Studio Five before it, counts towards Five’s news output so the biggest story on Wednesday was that Matt Johnson thought that Jimmy Carr’s Jimmy Con Carne crips were better than Frank Skinner’s Roast Dinner of Al Murray’s Steak and Al Pie. After wanting to present something that was a bit different from Live From Studio Five which featured Kate Walsh sitting on a sofa talking about Celebrity events and reading tweets we have OK! TV which has… a different sofa. What a change! Well done Mr. Desmond.

What did you think of this week’s programmes? Leave a comment below

Next Week: South Riding, Silk, The Model Agency and Friday Night Dinner

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