Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Crack open the Champagne! Light the Candles on the Cake! Tell Everyone! Yell it from the Rooftops! Run up to random strangers in the street and smack them in the face and shout it in their ear! Yes, you heard right – Eastenders (BBC1) is now a whopping 25 Years Old!!! Can you believe it?!! Not even Cats & Dogs live to be that old. And they are most probably more deserving of such a Milestone...!
However, like it or not, there’s no denying that Eastenders is the best Soap on the Box here in the UK. And by best, I mean ‘not as crap as the other ones currently on’ (God help us if Hollyoaks makes it to 25 Years, let alone 15, a Milestone which it unfortunately celebrates this Year)!! Eastenders is still utter bobbins, just like pretty much every Soap ever conceived, but has remained watchable due to its more realistic and gritty style, its various characters, and its no-holds-barred approach to controversial storylines (although the less said regarding the recent Jane Beale Stand-Up Comedy Storyline, the better). Whilst it remains as the TV equivalent of Japanese Water Torture, Eastenders is still far better than crap like Hollyoaks or Emmerdale!!!
So, to celebrate this great achievement, the Beeb rewarded the residents of Albert Square with a handful of Documentaries, a specially shot BBC One Ident in which the entire Cast emerge from the Queen Vic, staring up at the sky like they’ve just seen a UFO (probably pissed, the lot of ‘em), and an Exclusive Live Episode as well. Bloody hell, surely a Cake and a piss up would have sufficed?! Cheaper too...! Oh well.
Whilst watching the Live Episode of Eastenders, several thoughts entered my mind: the first was that it was so obviously filmed live!! You could practically see the glue and string holding it all together, especially in the performances and the editing (and Pat Butcher’s Face, but that’s another matter altogether). Second, it really wasn’t as exciting as it had been made out to be. A normal Episode would have perhaps done the Job just as well, if not better. Live Episodes have that rather odd whiff about them, and somehow just don’t sit right or fit in well, a bit like a Paedophile teaching a Year 5 Maths Class.
That said, and those niggles aside, it’s clear that the Episode did indeed yield some merits. The culmination of the ‘Who killed Archie Mitchell’ Storyline was well written, well paced and ultimately heart-breaking (especially the death of one of Walford’s most loved characters, which actually shocked this poor reviewer to the core. And everyone else who was watching that night)!!! And the scene with Dot & Ian Beale (the only surviving characters from the first episode in 1985) watching a video of their old neighbours was both poignant and celebratory, without too much ‘well done me ol’ mucker’ back slapping (that said, it did seem like they were actually watching a BBC Best of Eastenders Video instead. Did all those characters really have someone with a Video Camera recording their every move and discussion? I somehow highly doubt it)!!!
Overall, Eastenders Live proved to be an enjoyable yet flawed affair, nostalgic and enjoyable, whilst at the same time cheesy and rather clunky in its execution. But, saying that, surely that’s what Birthdays & Anniversaries are all about. In which case, mission accomplished. So here’s to another 25 Years of adultery, scandal, pub brawls and Phil Mitchell smacking people in the chops!! I think...
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
The World needs a lot of things right now. A Cure for Cancer. World Peace. A Second Season of Firefly. But if there’s one thing we sure as hell don’t need, it’s yet another Twilight TV cash-in. That’s right; the Big Television Execs have decided that there are simply not enough Vampire related TV Shows & Movies being forced upon us poor, helpless viewers, and therefore believe they have presented us with something resembling salvation, like giving Food to a poor, hungry orphan. But in reality, what they’ve done is more on a par with the idea of giving a paraplegic a pair of Stilts. Basically, dumb as hell!!! Yes folks, for your viewing displeasure, it’s yet another crappy Twilight rip-off – behold, The Vampire Diaries (ITV2).
For those lucky enough not to have watched this utter piece of televisual garbage, you are lucky. And therefore, it pains me to even just explain the basic plot. However, I must, because as many people as is humanly possible must be warned of this terrible excuse for absolute crap!!! You only have to read below, to draw comparisons between Twilight and Diaries, and understand how crap and unoriginal the show is. Here’s the basic plot of The Vampire Diaries:
1. There’s a normal, average teenage Girl, who is constantly miserable & brooding, and has an expression of having a pencil stuck up her arse.
2. Girl notices hot new mysterious guy at school, who is mysteriously mysterious, who also looks like he has a HB lodged in his rectum...blimey, their made for each other!!!! Oh, did I mention he was mysterious?!
3. Naturally, Pencil-Arse Girl is attracted to Pencil-Arse Boy and they flirt a bit (and by flirt, I mean they give each other pained stares and fail to finish a sentence without looking at the other, and then turning their head in embarrassment when the other notices their looking at them.
4. However, it turns out Pencil-Arse Boy is secretly a Vampire!! Holy Shit!!! But don’t worry, he’s still Hot, and mysterious, and he doesn’t drink human blood. Cos he’s very mysterious.
5. But uh-oh, looks like Pencil-Arse Boy has a Brother...an evil Brother!!! Who drinks human blood!! And he’s very mysterious!!!
Sound familiar?! If you read all that and are rather intrigued, then you should head into a quiet room in your house, take that double barrelled shotgun, shove it where the sun don’t shine, and pull the trigger. Because The Vampire Diaries is without doubt the biggest pile of bollocks I’ve ever set eyes on. There’s not an original idea in there!! It’s a hollow mess, just like Paris Hilton’s Brain!! There’s nothing, just static, an empty airless space!!! Vampires have been done to death, whether through brilliant TV Shows like Being Human, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and True Blood, or through dead air productions such as Blood Ties. The Vampire Diaries falls directly into the latter category. If you’re gonna create a new Vampire-centric Show, then at least attempt to come up with an original idea, don’t just leech off of the latest passing fad for all your ideas. And that doesn’t just count for Vampire related shows either.
It’s not just the Vampire element that grates!! Being a US Teen Drama is equally un-endearing, and infuriating to watch. Everyone is amazingly beautiful!! It’s like if the Town in which the Show is set has some kind of Nazi-like Master-Race Breeding program going on!!! It’s easy to believe that in these sorts of Shows that ugly or normal looking people are strangled at birth!!! The other problem with this is that (surprisingly) pretty people can’t always act very well. In fact, all they do is pull a brooding yet pretty) face and mumble a bit, like a stoned Hippo!! And thus realism goes out of the window!!! Goodbye Realism, try not to make too much of a mess on the pavement below!!!
Had enough of Vampires?!! Well, after watching this miserable excuse for a TV Drama, it’s fair to say that not only have I given up on the Vampire Genre, but also Life itself. This Show is the nadir of Teen Fantasy drama. It’s terribly written, terribly cast, terribly directed, and terribly terrible!! And sadly, because a majority of teenage viewers are idiots, like a Goldfish obsessed with its own reflection in the glass of its Bowl, its future is assured. Grrrr!!!!
Someone pass me the Stake, that Holy Water, and that clove of Garlic. And a Bucket as well. Things are gonna get messy.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Time for a change, I think. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had people who follow this Blog whispering to me that, despite enjoying the abuse and absolute scorn I pour on deserving TV Shows, they would love to hear me be less negative and derogatory about something for once. Now, in the past, I’ve always stood by the fact that writing about something I truly hate is much more fun than writing about something I love. But you’re right. I wouldn’t be writing this Blog if I hated all Television, would I? I love TV. There are so many TV Shows I love and adore. So it’s high time I raved about something instead of ranting. Just for once. So, here we are. But before we begin, just a word of warning: if this Blog sucks, and is the most boring piece of filth you’ve ever read, then it’s all your fault!!!! No pressure then, folks!!
Crime Dramas are ten a penny over here in the United Kingdom. Honestly, there’s so many of them on the box, clogging up the TV Listings like a Big Mac clogging up some poor overly obese man’s innards!! And, whilst each new Cop drama claims to be original and different compared to its millions of predecessors, in all honesty, it’s all a pack of lies. For every fantastically original and entertaining Jonathan Creek or Life on Mars, we get a sack full of typical, boring bollocks like Blue Murder or The Inspector Lynely Mysteries.
The whole of ITV, up till now, has stuffed it’s schedules with murder dramas, so many, in fact, that I’m half convinced that every high ranking executive working at ITV spend their evenings stalking the streets of London, stabbing, slashing and hacking every hooker and drunken idiot they can find. Blimey, there’s a brilliant Reality Show Concept right there. Celebrity Serial Killer anyone?! Hell, that’s one reality Show I’d definitely tune in for, even if it is just to see Katie Price knee deep in some poor bastards intestines, as she attempts to stop them screaming for help, whilst at the same time trying to make sure she doesn’t break a nail......ok, too far. But you gotta admit the concept is insanely genius!!
So ITV continues to shove grubby crime dramas with blood, gore, murder, crime and unconvincing detectives in our faces. But if by letting them do so means they continue to broadcast the only exception to the above, the excellent Law & Order: UK (ITV1), then hell, I’m prepared to put up with anything, even them throwing eggs and dead puppies at my window. It’s that good!!!
For those not in the know, Law & Order: UK is a British remake of the long-running US Crime Drama, produced by both the original series creator Dick Wolf, and former Torchwood Showrunner & Writer Chris Chibnall. The Format is simple: each Episode is stand-alone, and follows a criminal investigation from the beginning to the end, from the police investigation all the way to the trial. By the Episode’s end, every loose end has been tied up, one way or another, so by the following week; everything is shiny and brand new. A strong concept that, whilst sounding initially hollow and un-intriguing, instead allows for fantastic drama and brilliant, fast-paced storylines.
But let’s not get caught up with all that, the thing that makes this show so brilliant is the fantastic Cast, both the regulars and the guest characters. Bradley Walsh & Jamie Bamber star as the two main detectives, Ronnie Brooks and Matt Devlin, who are quite possibly the best Cop double act since Morse & Lewis. Walsh, in particular, is the most deserving of praise, bringing great humour, warmth and status to the role of Brooks, and in the process, pretty much beating his critics to death with his undervalued acting abilities. Likewise, Battlestar Galactica regular Bamber is fantastic as Devlin, and the two bounce off one another brilliantly!! The same is true of both Freema Agyeman and Ben Daniels as Crown Prosecutors James Steel & Alesha Phillips, whose chemistry on screen is explosive. Both actors bring a great sense of passion and determination to their roles, which greatly adds to the various Court Scenes, that could have become stale and sleep inducing by Episode 2, had they not been performed in such a striking and powerful way by all the Actors involved. The various guest roles are all equally well served, by both the scripts and the actors, and no one gives a duff performance.
Out of the 13 Episodes of Series One (split into two individual series over here, by the space of a Year), it’s hard to find a dead turkey amongst the chickens. The series opener, Care, is brilliant, full stop!!! Watch this Episode, and you will be unable to leave your TV alone until you’ve devoured the remainder of the Series. Top picks elsewhere include: Unloved (a great and fascinating look at young offenders), Alesha (Freema Agyeman’s finest hour), Samaritan (controversial stuff), Hidden (without spoiling it, a well paced storyline that many will connect to a recent major real-life incident), and Sacrifice (a great Episode for series regular Bill Paterson). And there is still 1 more Episode left to go, which, if anything like the rest of the Series, will be beyond fantastic.
I cannot recommend this Show enough: it’s edgy, it’s beautifully written, shot and performed, the music score is gorgeous, it doesn’t shy away from controversial storylines, and best of all it doesn’t get caught up in focusing on the Cops & Lawyers personal lives!! It’s all about the Case!! There’s no other British Show like it, and for that, it makes me want to stand up and salute!!! Yes, it even makes a cynical git like me turn into a patriot!!!
Law & Order: UK? The jury have reached a verdict...Guilty... of being absolutely bloody brilliant!!! I salute you, sir!!!
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Is that the sound of 30 Million Teenagers cheering, wailing, and generally being annoying ponces that I hear?!! Well, it’s either that, or it’s the annual Mental Institution Picnic Party again. But I highly doubt it. I mean, after how the last one turned out, you’d think that would prove that raving murderous lunatics and Public Dog Walking Areas don’t mix. Yuk, what a mess that turned out to be!!! Dogs definitely don’t make good Frisbees.
You may be wondering where this is going? Well, to be honest, so am I. This instalment of TV Wasteland could well lead to my mysterious disappearance in the middle of the night, my secret assassination in a deserted warehouse with a bag over my head, and (hopefully) dozens of conspiracy theories regarding the how and why of my fate!! So forgive me for stringing this along as much as possible, but I want to live as long as possible, even if it kills me!!!
So, let’s get down to it, then. This Week saw the eagerly awaited return of Skins; E4’s award Winning Teen Drama, returning for its Fourth Series, and naturally, every social networking site on the Internet was awash with comments of squealing pubescent Girls (and Boys as well, I am in no ways sexist), exclaiming their delight and worship at the build up towards the new series!! Whilst they probably thought their constant championing of Skins was justified and innocent, to be truly honest, it felt more like having that annoying drunken chick at a Party continuously shouting in your ear about how sexy she feels compared to you, before collapsing and puking into your lap, leaving you sitting there feeling abused, awkward and deaf!!
So by the time Skins finally aired, I’d already had it up to my teeth with the damn thing!!! Settling down to watch Episode One, I prepared to watch with an open mind, even though my mind was filled with everyone else’s stupid comments. But honestly, 3 million annoying teenagers can’t be wrong, can they?!
Well, here’s where things get controversial. Because in all honesty, I liked it, but it was hardly the Dog’s Bollocks that everyone else had claimed it to be. The opening nightclub scene intrigued, Pandora & Thomas’s break-up was painful and heart-breaking, and there is no doubt that actor Merveille Lukeba delivered nothing less than a 100% spot on performance. However, like pretty much every episode of Skins before it, the episode swiftly fell into that old routine of over the top set-pieces (the new headmaster is perhaps one of the most annoying and unconvincing creations ever, and the hospital sex scene was absolutely idiotic – if this were the real world, they’d have been caught at it, and given a good beating); obvious plotting (it was so obvious that Thomas was gonna cheat, don’t act all surprised); Main Characters who are all merely ciphers, stereotypical characters with little bits of interesting aspects added on, but stereotypes none the less; and a soundtrack so depressing that jumping out of that window in my third floor room looked mighty tempting!! I wondered for ages why I wasn’t enjoying what was apparently meant to be the greatest TV Show ever made. Was I perhaps genetically wrong?!! And then it hit me...
You see, my problem is, that on an emotional level, I fail to see the attraction that Skins has. I fail to connect with the characters and their problems, which is the shows biggest flaw, because I’m a Teenager, and I’m meant to connect with them!! But I don’t. Skins is just too OTT and in-your-face for me to feel anything towards it, apart from confusion and loneliness. It just doesn’t seem real enough to me.
Shows like Teen Comedy The Inbetweeners (E4) or even BBC Fantasy Drama Merlin, on the other hand, capture the spirit of youth so much more subtly, which makes them that little bit more accessible and easier to relate to. The loneliness, the awkwardness and the emotion of teen-hood, that inability to fit in, that sense of confusion and lack of belonging, are conveyed much better in these two shows through humour, action, subtle dialogue and, in Merlin’s case, without the use of gratuitous sex and swearing. Skins bashes you in the face with teenage drama and angst repeatedly, like Gene Hunt smashing in some armed blagger with a crow bar, whilst these other shows prefer to gently sooth the metaphors and emotions into your finely proportioned cheeks, like rubbing in sun lotion on a Hot Summer’s Day.
So, there we have it. I don’t enjoy Skins, simply for the reason that I fail to find anything there to keep me hooked. Please don’t take too much offence. I have nothing against Skins, but to be honest folks, there is much better stuff on the box.
Well, I’m glad we got that out of the way. I feel all the more better for that now. Time to sit back and relax, nothing to fret about, just gonna...
Oh, that was the door. Better answer it, could be someone important...!