Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas from tv-ooh to you and you and you

You'll have to excuse tv-ooh: those 12 empty wine glasses all over the coffee table, that empty tin of Quality Street and that pile of empty After Eight chocolate mint sleeves (or whatever they're called) - NOISY BURP! - they all belong to tv-ooh.

You see, tv-ooh is indulging - oh hang on, where's the remote, oh it's there, no that's a banana - because it's Christmas.

So far, tv-ooh has watched the Miranda Christmas special, the Have I Got News For You Christmas special and the EastEnders Christmas special. Yeah that last one was a bit miserable, but hey ho.

And, over in 'structured reality' tv land, tv-ooh has also enjoyed the Made in Chelsea Christmas special - an 'ooh' to follow on that, later - and also the Essex Christmas special. Tv-ooh probably won't bother with an 'ooh' on that one; it wasn't great.

There are more televisual delights to come over the next few days; tv-ooh might even write about some of them, given the purpose and intention of this blog and everything.

Tv-ooh is also excited, but also a bit terrified, at the Gordon Ramsey programme that's live on Channel 4 on Christmas morning. The idea is you follow Gordon as he prepares a Christmas lunch, as you do the same at home.

Now, given that he is one of the most frightening men on television - even more scary than Ross Kemp in a randy mood while making a documentary in Afghanistan - who ON EARTH wants that foul-mouthed chef bawling at you through the screen? BASTE THAT TURKEY NOW YOU F***IN ****!

Now that kind of language is only going to add to one's stress levels as one wraps bacon strips around a sausage, isn't it.

Tv-ooh would also suggest, having looked at the image above, that Mr Ramsey means business, and that he's liable to do something unpleasant with those sharp utensils if you misbehave in anyway.

There's also an added frisson because it's live - so people may even just watch in the hope he loses his cool in some way, and ends up shouting and swearing a lot.

Ah, the true meaning of Christmas, eh readers!

But all that frippery aside, most of all, tv-ooh would like to wish you - be you loyal follower or casual browser - a very merry Christmas indeed.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Well I can't think why anyone would want to watch Shipwrecked can you?

Nope. This is all lost on tv-ooh.

(The men in the photos above are named Tristan, Stephen and Joseph and they and their physiques unashamedly form part of the 'cast' of Shipwrecked, which is a 'reality' show on Channel 4 and E4. It's nearing the end of its current series, in which the main attributes for inclusion in said 'cast' appear to be the possession of a tanned and lithe torso (not unfamiliar to being smeared with baby-oil by a giggling photographer's assistant) and also possibly an argumentative nature while also having an inbuilt ability to pose purposefully in an exotic environment in some way. Spotted a branch? Hold onto it and pose like your life depends on it. You'll note that Joseph here has already managed it. Perhaps he has been practising. But that facial hair doesn't look very stranded-on-an-island friendly does it Joseph. Have you smuggled in razors perhaps? How will that be maintained? Will that be a storyline?

So, is Shipwrecked a genuine survival game show with a reality show twist or an example of lowest-common-denominator tv with its main selling points of 1) nice and sunny scenery and 2) young and fit participants with not much clothing on and not much else. In truth, it doesn't matter really, and let's remember this show is on its eighth series so it's doing something right. Furthermore, there is no lowest-common-denominator tv anymore. We live in turbulent times do we not.

Other 'cast' members are available.)

As you were.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Doctor Who Christmas Special 2011: Idle speculation and excitable conjecture; a trailer

It's Christmas, therefore it must be the Doctor in Doctor Who.

We've only had regular Christmas specials of Doctor Who since Christmas 2005 but it feels like a tradition that we've always had, like pulling a cracker or drinking too much Baileys until you hear yourself say things like, 'Actually, Downton Abbey's really quite gripping isn't it?'

The title of the Doctor Who Christmas special is The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe which we are told is a 'pastiche' on another book (yes, yes I know) much like last year's A Christmas Carol was a 'pastiche' of the Dickens' book of the same name.

We know that writer and executive producer Steven Moffat is a self-confessed fan of giving his episodes what he describes as 'slutty' titles, by which he basically means 'attention-grabbing'. And while all that's very effective and good for those people who don't normally watch the show and so can see the title as a sort of short-hand and an easy 'way in' to an unfamiliar series, it's not quite as straightforward as calling the episode, I don't know, say, 'The Doctor saves some kids in World War II in Dorset from an alien and grapples with the human emotions of a woman whose husband has died at some point before the adventure began and also there's a forest at night involved somewhere as well as a wardrobe in it of some description plus some cutesy stuff with two kiddies as well', which basically seems to be what's going to happen, but that is just idle speculation based on photographs.

So, The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe it is, then.

Unless - thinking about the wardrobe here, rather than the widow - that title may also suggest there's some sort of bizarre cross-dressing trans-dimensional interplay going on, via said wardrobe. Or not.

Fortunately for everyone, Steven Moffat knows what he's doing, so there's probably no need for any alarm whatsoever.

That's alright then.

Let's watch the trailer.

Monday, 19 December 2011

AMAZEBALLS*! How much is tv-ooh looking forward to Christmas?

That, readers, is what is known in the trade as a 'rhetorical' question, ie a question that does not expect an answer because the meaning is all but given in the question.

But say tv-ooh did expect an answer, say that the question's answer wasn't so clear in its asking, then surely the answer would be something like QUITE A BLOOMIN' WELL LOT THANKS FOR ASKING CHEERS EVERYONE because, birth of the baby b'Jaysus aside, tv-ooh loves the Christmas.

And you know why don't you? BECAUSE THERE'S LOTS OF AMAZING TELLY ON.

Tv-ooh is now unavailable for several hours as tv-ooh is about to get a pen and this:

and circle or asterisk programmes of note that tv-ooh may want to watch during the festive period while one hand is buried deep in a large tin of Quality Street, the other in a tin of Roses.

Tv-ooh may be sometime.

Do you know, it could be the copious amounts of mulled wine talking, but tv-ooh is feeling quite Christmassy. 'Quite' is as far as tv-ooh will go, mind you.

*Amazeballs! Where on earth did that word come from anyway? (Some thoughts on that, here) Is tv-ooh some sort of teenage girl all of a sudden? No tv-ooh is not.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Slap series blog

(he's a selfish family man!)
Hector's having a barbecue to mark his 40th, but he has his eye on more than just a snag - 17-year-old Connie. The slap stops anything from happening, this time.
(she doesn't want kids!)
While Anouk's at the barbecue she clocked what was going on between Hector and Connie, but is best friends with Hector's wife, Aisha. Trouble ahead.
(he's got a temper and a pool!)
It was Harry who slapped the four-year-old Hugo. Harry tries to dismiss the incident, but it emerges Harry's life is far more troubled than anyone wants to admit.
(she's a bit of a one!)
Connie finally gets some Hector-time, but it doesn't go according to plan. She tells a terrible lie about him to her friend Richie.
(In court!)
Rosie gets her day in court over Harry's slapping of her son Hugo, but by now it's damaged almost every relationship we've seen.
His father Manolis is the only person Hector has told about what happened with Connie - but Manolis has other things on his mind.
Aisha and Hector go off for a mini-break but Hector starts to cry and admits everything. Aisha heads for Anouk's sofa.
(The end!)
Connie's moved on, but now Richie's fancying Hector too. He tells Gary what Connie said Hector did to her, and, once again, it all kicks off.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Trapped, abandoned or dead: So how might Amy Pond leave Doctor Who then?

Amy Pond is to leave Doctor Who soon, in what has been described by series show-runner Steven Moffat as a 'heartbreaking' exit.

And, knowing Moffat's tendency for epic story arcs and mind-boggling plots, it's likely to be on an epic scale - perhaps involving a threat to the very existence of the universe in some way, perhaps not.

Karen Gillan's Amy has been one of the series' most popular characters, so she deserves a good send-off. But we've been here before, many times.

Over the years, the Doctor's friends have left him for all sorts of reasons - some good, some not so, but several have been similar in style and theme. So, going beyond the teaser of a 'heartbreaking' exit, let us consider what fate could befall Amy by looking at previous methods of departure...

1. An abrupt departure: Sarah-Jane Smith left the Tom Baker version of the Doctor after he received a summons home. Her unexpected exit as he drops her off in a South Croydon cul-de-sac was a rare moment of genuine character-based emotion in the original run of the series. Of course, it wasn't South Croydon at all - it was Aberdeen, which we found out 30 years later when Sarah met the Doctor again in 2006. How's that for a story arc? See also Peter Davison's companion Tegan: The grumpy Australian air hostess left on a whim in 1984, after a gruesome battle with the Daleks about abandoned warehouses in London Docklands awaiting conversion into flats (or something).

2. The memory wipe: Catherine Tate's Donna suffered a fate arguably worse than death - after all the adventures with the Doctor, he had to wipe her mind due to her becoming part Time Lord. She reverted back to the self-absorbed, cocky Donna we met in her first episode. That was reasonably heartbreaking. See also Patrick Troughton's Jamie and Zoe, who also had their minds wiped of all but their first meeting with the Doctor prior to him going on trial for meddling. Those Time Lords again.

3. Trapped in a parallel word or decides to help the needy: Until her return, Billie Piper's Rose Tyler was trapped in a parallel world and was never to be seen again, until, er, she managed to break through, before ending up with a human-copy of the Doctor on a beach. Other companions have left to help others - be they men who look like lions (Romana), space lepers (Nyssa), or dodgy con-men who run massive freezer centres on space ships (Melanie).

4. Falls in love: Technically speaking, Amy's already in love, with her husband Rory, who is in fact a 2,000 year old revived-dead man, or a man-like replica at least. They could go off in the sunset together, but it's unlikely. Too easy. But, in the past, the Doctor's friends have left after meeting a new love interest. Jo Grant and Leela, both from the 1970s, swapped the Doctor for marriage proposals from men they'd only met five weeks previously.

5. Blown up saving the Earth: Adric, Peter Davision's social-skills-free, maths-genius companion from the early 80s died when trying to avert a space freighter that was on a collision course to Earth. He nearly succeeded but a Cyberman blasted the controls before he had a chance to fix the problem, although on reflection that's actually fine. Indelibly etched on the minds of impressionable children who watched this go out back in 1982, the impact of a death of one of the Doctor's friends is as epic as they come - even though Adric himself had few redeeming features, not to mention a horrible costume.

So how will Amy go? Could she die? Death is quite heartbreaking, but also too obvious. With Moffat's tendency for complex story arcs and what he calls 'timey wimey' narrative play, it's anyone's guess  - although, more accurately, it's Moffat's decision - but it will likely be 1) unmissable, and 2) maybe very confusing. Let's all just hope Rory's okay though eh?

Related stories:
Doctor Who - Dinosaurs on a Spaceship review: 'Part comedy romp, part genocide-wreaking villian'
Doctor Who - Asylum of the Daleks review: An 'all-guns-blazing season opener' + surprise
Doctor Who: It's fair to say none of these characters will be in the new series
Two lost 60s Doctor Who episodes found: Fans thrilled, then a bit disappointed ;)
More lost 1960s Doctor Who episodes found? BFI event gives a hint...
Doctor Who movie: an appeal for calm at this confusing time
So did the Doctor Who Confidential film crew capture the meeting in which it was decided to cancel Doctor Who Confidential
Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane: Andy Pandy outfits in space

Friday, 16 December 2011

The Slap episode 8 review - Richie: an ending, of sorts, but the right one

Along with the decision to devote a whole episode of The Slap to Hector's father Manolis a few weeks ago, the choice to have an episode all about Richie's story initially seemed a bit strange - why put an apparently peripheral character in the foreground when there's more central characters we want to know about?

Back in episode one, we saw Richie mainly as Connie's shy, awkward friend. He looked more like a 'supporting character' - just the babysitter of Hugo, the kid who was slapped by Hector's cousin Harry.

Then, after Connie's lie that Hector had raped her, and Richie's growing realisation he liked Hector too, it became clear trouble was brewing - especially after Hector began receiving anonymous text messages calling him a rapist, sent by a confused and self-loathing Richie.

So just like the Manolis episode, Richie's episode turned out to be another well-placed alternative take on the overall story, and, once again, it managed to give an unexpectedly sympathetic insight into the central character's life - but this time the episode also had the additional pressure of wrapping up the whole saga.

Richie's story, like Connie's before him, was essentially another coming of age tale, but once the pressure of Connie's lie gets too much for him, his life takes a turning point after he blurts out what Connie had told him, which in turn causes further drama for him and practically everyone else.

But as we know, the nature of The Slap in devoting most of the episode to one character means that many of the other characters' stories take a back seat, so here, in the last episode, they had to be wrapped up in a Holby City-style music montage in the last five minutes.

But, it did the job - and it also acted as the reward us loyal viewers needed.

We see Anouska tapping away on her keyboard writing; Harry and his wife looking at the scan of their unborn baby; Manolis and Koula having a family meal, and, er, Connie having a walk with her mother-figure aunt. So they've all got what they wanted, despite however uneasy the truth might be.

But there's less of a clear ending for Aisha. Having sacked Connie and told Rosie to stay away, after Rosie's husband Gary takes a bit too much glee in telling Aisha Richie's belief that Hector had raped Connie, she decides to return home to her kids and Hector, after what we presume are a few nights on her friend Anouska's sofa.

Aisha arrives home just as Hector finds the cricket bat in the garden - the same one Hugo was swinging before he was slapped. They don't speak, but we presume there's a reconcilation beginning.

We get more of an ending for Rosie and Gary and Hugo, as they were directly linked to Richie too.

They've decide to leave for another town and a new house - which Rosie had long been hoping for - with Hugo snoozing menacingly in the back seat of the car: an undisciplined, soon to be uncontrollable, monster in the making.

ABC should revisit him in 20 years when he is actually a monster. He'll probably be very successful in life.

Most of all, episode eight was Richie's story - and it felt right, in the end, to conclude on him.

It gave us a happy ending, of sorts - he found a nice boy, got his friend back and found he has everything to look forward to - and it also acted as a reminder that The Slap was always about much, much more than just a slap.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Charlie's Angels: Is it really that bad?

No-one seems to have anything positive to say about Charlie's Angels, which is a bit of a shame if you like mediocre but undemanding candy-floss drama buckling under the weight of a slightly lame, exposition-heavy script.

This Miami-set, up-to-date remake - oh look the characters all have iPads - has not lasted very long.

Based on the famous mid-70s US detective show about three female private detectives with immaculate hair and groovy clothes and managed by a mysterious and unseen boss called Charlie, the new show was pulled in the US after only four of its eight episodes, and then cancelled.

Here in the UK, it seems far more at home on digital channel E4, so we might get to see all eight (although so far only five have been scheduled).

Which, depending on your view, is either a good thing or a bad thing.

Tv-ooh is in somewhere in between - despite its creator claiming he didn't want to create a 'camp' show, any action/detective show with three female leads with immaculate hair and groovy clothes, and an unlikely man-boy sidekick with muscles ('Bosley'), or where the leads regularly go undercover as cocktail waitresses or fashion models, is going to be in that sort of ball-park.

Angel Eve undercover in a casino: Not camp at all, no no no
If the dialogue wasn't so frequently excruciating, it might have stood a slighter stronger chance of being a bit better - however, if nothing else, it looks good; the acting isn't that bad; and the producers even managed to rustle up a large crowd of extras to add a bit of urgency and chaos to a scene where the Russian First Lady was about to be shot for some unclear reason involving criminals with eastern European accents.

Away from the fighty action sequences and nonsense 'intelligence-sharing' info-dump scenes involving huge touch-screens and that job-lot of iPads, and a split-screen technique which suggests the producers enjoyed watching a Spooks DVD box set quite recently, it's the clunky attempts of dialogue masquerading as characterisation where it really falls down.

"I never thought my heart could hurt this much," says angel Abby, after fellow angel Gloria is blown up in episode one. You see, she feels pain.

"You are angels of justice, not angels of vengeance," comforts Charlie, via conference call. You see, he is a good leader.

And Bosley, a 'security expert' who was about to go down for 20 years for a tax scam, until Charlie offered him 'a second change', offers this advice before the team go off on a job: "Remember what Charlie said. Guys, just be careful. For me."

Fellow angel Kate's response? "Yeah, we're angels. Not saints." You see. She is determined but she also says it how it is.

So at what point, exactly, did US network ABC know they had a bit of a clunker? Did anyone read the scripts? And then did they air the show anyway and hope for the best? Or hope no-one would notice?

Despite everything, it shows you can never truly predict a hit show - or a flop one.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Pan Am: Melodrama hits a new high; gets taken off air. Ho dear

You know how it is. You nearly crash land your passenger plane onto a beaten-up runway in troubled 1960s Haiti because you've got a passenger having a heart attack, and then one of your crew wants to take home a real life souvenir. Happens all the time.

Play-by-the-rules Captain Dean tussles with the well-meaning French stewardess Colette over the orphaned teenager she wants to rescue from roaming rebel gunmen, having found her during a mercy dash in a jeep with co-pilot Ted while looking for a doctor in the jungle - but pilot Dean's more worried about the runway being long enough for take-off.

Later, having off-loaded as much weight as they can, including lots of nice luggage and the heart attack victim (he didn't make it), Captain Dean revs the engines to within an inch of their lives but keeps the brakes on - and in doing so just about manages to power a take-off as rebels with guns come to investigate. Phew.

And the whole thing happened on a stormy rainy night, too,which we all know is tv shorthand for BIG DRAMATIC DRAMA, don't we.

Stewardess and spy Kate nurses a sick passenger - and not very well as it turns out: he doesn't make it.
But it's this sort of plane-based melodrama - on board emergencies, angry or dying passengers, erm, crash landings on a hurricane-damaged runway at Port Au Prince - that many had originally expected of US period drama Pam Am, rather than the pseudo-historical travel show-cum-espionage hokum, but with nice period detail, that it turned out to be.

And that's not a criticism - there's room for this sort of glossy, lightweight drama, but maybe not on a Saturday night at the same time as The Killing or X Factor.

And, unlesss it's just a break for Christmas, perhaps the BBC agree, as it's been taken off after four weeks and eight episodes, but with a promise to show the remaining six episodes from January.

The situation echoes the show's status in the US: Pam Am's network ABC was thought to have axed the series due to poor ratings - it debuted to 10m but that dropped to around 4m over the weeks - and pulled it altogether after episode nine.

It's just said the final five are to be shown in January, too, but it hasn't committed to anymore episodes - althought the network has denied the show's been cancelled.

The on board drama that made episode eight feel a bit different from what had come before would likely become repetitive if it happened too often, like a Casualty in the air, but as a one-off, it made a change from the usual fare: namely, an historically-significant cocktail-party of some sort, in a capital city hotel and with a romantic or espionage subplot delivered by lightly-sketched characters in nice outfits.

Let's hope it gets picked up for more episodes (it won't).

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Two lost 60s Doctor Who episodes found: Fans thrilled, then a bit disappointed ;)

Two 'lost' episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960s have been found, much to the delight of the show's fans everywhere.

The episodes, Galaxy Four part 3 ('Airlock'), featuring William Hartnell as the Doctor, and The Underwater Menace part 2, featuring Patrick Troughton, were shown to surprised fans at the Missing Presumed Wiped event at the BFI, earlier.

It is thought the episodes were discovered earlier this year from a private collector in Hampshire.

The owner was apparently aware he had episodes of 1960s Doctor Who in his possession, but did not realise they included two of the 108 episodes that were missing from the BBC archives.

The news follows largely-ignored hints in the official BFI event information ahead of the event, reported here earlier on tv-ooh, which referred to 'one or two very special items' of 'BBC sci-fi footage' from the 1960s, while fans on Twitter became increasingly excited at the prospect in the hours before today's announcement.

The team at the BBC on the never-ending hunt for missing episodes of 60s tv often receive hoaxes from not-very hilarious members of the public about missing Doctor Who episodes ('I've got Tenth Planet part four - in colour!'), so speculation on today's news was restrained - in Doctor Who terms, at least - until confirmation from the official BBC Twitter account of Doctor Who that 'something special' would be coming soon.

Tv-ooh is of course excited and pleased at the news that one of our best loved shows now has two less missing episodes, and also that the announcement comes so close to Christmas, but really we would've much preferred an episode or two of Fury from the Deep if it's all the same to you, cheers.

Tv-ooh is joking; it's great news.

Related stories:
More lost 1960s Doctor Who episodes found? BFI event gives a hint...
Doctor Who movie: an appeal for calm at this confusing time
So did the Doctor Who Confidential film crew capture the meeting in which it was decided to cancel Doctor Who Confidential
Doctor Who - The God Complex review: Nice touch with the Nimon as it all gets good again
Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler review - the only River in the, er, River, is a River?
Doctor Who: Episodes 8 - 11 trailer: 8 fatuous observations
Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes to War review: 'Epic', ' Blimey', 'quips'
Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane: Andy Pandy outfits in space

More lost 1960s Doctor Who episodes found? BFI event gives a hint...

The annual Missing Believed Wiped event at the BFI later today - where recently rediscovered episodes of classic tv programmes are shown again for the first time in decades - may include something quite significant, especially if you're a Doctor Who fan.

The latest timetable for the event refers mysteriously to BBC Sci-fi footage (Title TBC} (BBC 1960s).

Of course, it might not be Doctor Who - but previous information on the event also hints at 'one or two very special items'.

What else could justifiably be described in that way? No-one would drop those sort of hints for a rediscovered episode of relatively obscure 60s sci-fi such as Quatermass or A for Andromeda? Would they?

Organisers have given no more information - it's likely they'd want the identity of the episode or episodes to be kept secret, and for it only be revealed as it's shown and not a minute before.

We should hear soon after though: no doubt the audience will all be armed with smartphones and have their Twitter posts at the ready.

There are 108 missing episodes of early Doctor Who, partly due to a once-routine practise of 'junking' old episodes after opportunities for overseas sales had diminished. Episodes do occasionally return - over the years they have been found in the lofts of private collectors or in forgotten cupboards of foreign tv stations.

Episodes from the first two tv Doctors are mostly affected - and as a result many lost episodes by William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton have gone down in fan folklore as 'classics'. While some episodes may deserve that title, or show key parts of the series' history, in reality many have only a curiosity value that doesn't stretch far beyond the completist hard-core fan.

If this BBC 1960s sci-fi footage is indeed revealed to be rediscovered Doctor Who, it will be interesting to see what it is - a lost classic like Power of the Daleks or more from The Web of Fear would be much more welcome than, say, something regarded as a bit more ho-hum, like The Macra Terror or Galaxy Four.

Either way, a DVD release shouldn't be too far behind...

Related stories:
Doctor Who movie: an appeal for calm at this confusing time
So did the Doctor Who Confidential film crew capture the meeting in which it was decided to cancel Doctor Who Confidential
Doctor Who - The God Complex review: Nice touch with the Nimon as it all gets good again
Doctor Who: Let's Kill Hitler review - the only River in the, er, River, is a River?
Doctor Who: Episodes 8 - 11 trailer: 8 fatuous observations
Doctor Who: A Good Man Goes to War review: 'Epic', ' Blimey', 'quips'
Elisabeth Sladen's Sarah Jane: Andy Pandy outfits in space

Friday, 9 December 2011

The Slap episode seven review - Aisha: Another part of the jigsaw

Another part of the jigsaw clicks into place in episode 7 of The Slap, as attention turned to Sophie Okonedo's Aisha.

We know now that Harry, who is Aisha's husband Hector's cousin (the guy who slapped the four-year-old Hugo back in episode one) once broke his wife's jaw.

Aisha had known all along, but through family loyalty had kept it from Hugo's mother Rosie, who is one of her oldest friends.

So Rosie is furious when Aisha decides to confess to her during their first meeting since Rosie's court action against Harry, in which information about Rosie Aisha had previously shared with her family was used against Rosie in court.

It seems an odd decision for Aisha - who argued it wouldn't have changed the case because Harry's wife would have denied it, and also because Rosie appeared to finally be moving forward.

Guilty secrets

But perhaps Aisha's motivation matched that of Hector, when he too made his own confession earlier - telling Aisha, during an anniversary weekend up on the Gold Coast, about his brief affair.

They both unburdened their guilty secrets, but in doing so probably caused much more damage.

Slightly more comically, also in the mix this episode was the dashing Dr Art: Aisha attends a veterinary conference - well known for drama and seduction - in a swish hotel. She is wooed then seduced by the smitten Dr Art, who tempts her with talk of caring for primates at a friend's sanctuary in Borneo.

She considers it - but later she deletes his follow up email, and we assume her forgiveness of Hector is not far off, as the episode ends with the narrator (presumably reading parts of the original novel), talking about marriage as negotiation.

Slow pace, fast pace

The pace of The Slap changes on a whim. For the first 30 minutes or so this week, the pace is mainly relaxed, domestic, almost documentary-like. It has a confidence like it knows it's able to cash-in on the six week investment many of us have made in the multi-character storyline, which itself gently hints and unfolds - and sometimes with a slightly maudlin piano soundtrack that can veer on over-use, sometimes not.

And then, suddenly, the pace picks up again - when Hector and later Aisha make their confessions - voices are raised, and it all becomes emotionally charged.

And you're not sure where you are or where your sympathies lie. Again.

So as the final episode approaches, we know it will be about Ritchie, but several questions remain: Will Aisha discover Hector's brief liaison was with Connie, her assistant and babysitter? Will we discover the identity of the mysterious texter (presumably it's Ritchie). Will Rosie find any peace? Or will The Slap conclude on an uneasy, 'sort-of' ending that leaves lots of questions unanswered, in a reflection of how life actually is?

We'll see.

What next?

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Slap episode 6 review - Manolis: It's all still quite bleak...

We all know by now that The Slap is not going to be a barrel of laughs by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact it sometimes feel bleaker than an EastEnders omnibus on a cold Sunday in December.
But unlike our favourite Albert Square miseries, there’s often a glimmer of charm somewhere too.

Still, episode six of The Slap, focusing on Hector’s father Manolis, felt like the gloomiest yet.
It was both dark and gentle - a meandering profile of an ageing Greek patriarch tiring of modern life. He's missing the country of his birth and he's mourning the passing of youth and his friends, and all while growing weary of his outspoken wife.

He’s been pulled in different directions for years and the result is there to see on screen.
Through Lex Marinos' measured performance you can see it all: torn between regret about missed opportunities, the struggle to always do the ‘right thing’ for his wife and family, and having to deal with a repressed rage (which he does so by examining a growing damp patch on the ceiling above his bed, but then lashes out at a smug contemporary while at a funeral).
Of course, we also know by now not to expect too much movement with the overall plot, even though the in-depth character studies of each episode are centred around the slap from Manolis' nephew Harry on four-year-old Hugo back in episode one.

But the moments where things do develop promise much bigger things to come.

The brief front-seat fumble between Hector and his babysitter Connie in episode four, and her subsequent drunken lie to her friend Richie that Hector had raped her, is starting to bite – Hector’s receiving anonymous texts calling him a rapist.
Hector confesses his guilt to his father, and the revelation reveals the sacrifices Manolis made for his family as a younger man.
Suddenly, Manolis' story makes much more sense to the overall series - Hector's not so different from his father after all, even if their methods and actions vary: they're both torn between their own ambitions and desires, and their role as father and husband.
Later, Manolis meets Hector's wife Aisha, to persuade her to take part in a family holiday. He tries to put his foot down but his 'traditional methods' no longer work, and it back-fires.
We hear she’s in tears but that’s good news to Manolis’s wife, Koula, who doesn't like her daughter-in-law.

Koula can't hide her pleasure so she makes her husband some Turkish Delight as a reward.

They eat them together and then later in bed they hold hands for the first time in a long time - it's not perfect, but it's who they are and it's what they've got, and, well, maybe it's enough for Manolis after all.

Great tv - again.

What next?