Monday, 24 December 2012

Made in Chelsea series 4: The winners, the losers, and the all-out chumps...

How was it for you readers? For us, series four of Made in Chelsea has had to fight a bit harder for tv-ooh's attention than during previous runs.

That's partly because the chump-count has risen considerably this time around (hello Andy and friends) and also, perhaps, because the show's stopped being a novelty: the characters are now also celebrities. We see them at awards shows and film premieres, but they don't do any of that during Made in Chelsea. There's also the risk of repetition of storylines, as its producers try and recognise and exploit what they think made the show a hit in the first place. (In case you're wondering, it's mainly ARGUMENTS we like, between the characters we want to watch).

Because don't forget, among all of this furrowed-brow discussion, WE TAKE IT ALL SO FRIGHTFULLY SERIOUSLY. Anyway, who's for a glass of Champagne and a weekend out of London, as we take a look back over this series?

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Killing III: Sarah Lund's gone to Iceland but there are still questions needing answers

That final episode of The Killing III weighed so heavily with our concerns for Lund's future, it almost didn't matter who the curiously named 'The Perpetrator' turned out to be.

But, clunky Danish to English translations aside, it's thanks to a few furtive asides earlier in the series that dodgy butler-type Niels Reinhardt was always going to be a possibility.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Doctor Who: Are the Cybermen the vainest lifeform in the universe? (Yes, yes they are)

Everyone needs a haircut now and then; perhaps a new pair of shoes, say, or a big woolly jumper to help you play a small part in that current trend for big knits and bold patterns, even if they invariably make you a bit too warm, a bit too fast.

But what if you're an emotion-free part-man part-machine creature prone to stomping around the universe like you're in a bad mood? What then?

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

TOWIE live: 'Structured' reality without the structure creates an actual shambles

A 'live' episode of structured-reality hair-do The Only Way is Essex was always going to be an easy target for critics, but no-one could have expected the generally shambolic nature of what was presented before us.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Killing III: We don't remember this 'scene' from episode 2 do you?

We are of course joking, but, in a way, it's a shame the below scene wasn't included in the climax of episode 2 of The Killing III, as it might have eased some of that terrible tension as Sarah Lund misses her train having been distracted by her surprise sighting of her estranged son Mark, and his very pregnant girlfriend, especially as she was en route to meet a murderous kidnapper who promptly dropped an innocent man to his death.

That's what actually happens in the transmitted version of the below scene, but we think we prefer this version, even if it's not very 'on message'.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Hour series 2: Anyone fancy a cigarette?

When something looks as good as The Hour it's easy to be drawn in. If that's a device to try and distract us from the occasionally misfiring plot or the - clunk! - slightly heavy-handed attempts at exploring some of 'social issues' of the 1950s, then, for the most part, it works. The show is visually seductive, even if by the end of an episode you quite fancy lighting up a cigarette.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Homeland: The only relief is that the Dana sub-plot is finally making sense but we still can't fully relax

We'd say we could relax a bit now, except for the fact that when we watch Homeland it tends to be with our breath held due to all the tension, not knowing who'll die next or if Carrie might suddenly throw a gurn at us.

It's just that, seven episodes in to series two, it's a relief to see that the previously tedious Dana and her politician's son boyfriend sub-plot finally start to make sense - rather than, as up to now, it just feeling like clips dropped in from an episode of a dreary US teen drama, as if Homeland somehow needed padding to fill its hour-long slot.

But, just as Saul says (to the imprisoned terrorist Aileen shortly before she kills herself using glass from his spectacles he'd carelessly left with her while out he dashed in pursuit of a suspect she'd deliberately wrongly identified) - 'trust me'.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Killing III: Has everyone stopped going on about the jumper yet?

The Killing, back on BBC Four in a pulse-quickening double bill on a Saturday night, is now in its third and final series, and soon Sophie Grabol's smile-free detective Sarah Lund will be no more.

Of course, it's too hard to bear. We know that. But we hope, even now, that she doesn't die at the end.

We hope she gets the 'normal' life she seemed to be seeking at the start of this series. We'd quite happily have a spin off show, perhaps called The Sarah Lund Adventures, where we see Sarah enjoying a healthy relationship with her son and new grandchild, pottering around a garden growing things, and all while holding down a boring but comfortable desk job away from Copenhagen's most elaborate murderers, but especially those with a political point to prove and a ten episode-long fondness for attention.

Sarah's mum and her amusing husband would live next door and they'd be the comic foil but Sarah would love them both really.

Us viewers would moan like hell about such a spin-off being boring, but none of us would begrudge Sarah a happy ending, such is her impact on our lives - but we're still a bit worried about this whole jumper thing.

It's got out of hand.

Can we all just GET OVER the jumper?

Friday, 26 October 2012

Revenge: Season 1 was quite good but will season 2 just be like Revenge: The Revenge?

Season one of Revenge is now all done - we're simply exhausted, readers - and Monday nights at 9pm on E4 in the UK won't quite be the same. Let's face it, its replacement - Derren Brown's Apocalypse, or something - doesn't quite have the same appeal despite it also having a central figure who likes to mess with people's heads.

But no matter - season two of Revenge is officially due in the UK early next year and, given the season one cliffhanger, it looks like the whole thing might now be about the suspected involvement of Emily's mother in the conspiracy, and her being tracked down.

Oh. This is the same mother that not much was ever heard about during season one: only that she apparently died when Emily was very young, and there was also a throwaway reference in the final episode that she was 'mad'.

Except now it turns out she may have been alive all along.

But if you were Emily, could you cope? After all the trouble you've gone to, to find justice for your father - getting engaged, faking friendships, getting yourself a Japanese mentor to teach you martial arts, spending a lot of time watching old CCTV videos on a laptop - wouldn't you just want a break from all the revengin'? Maybe a holiday?

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hunted: Who is the mole, and is there even a mole? Are we sure it's not just lots of guns?

The impossibly moody action thriller Hunted is, if nothing else, a lesson in how to tire out your leading actor, and maybe even leave them covered in bruises with a bit of internal emotional distress thrown in.

Melissa George is not getting an easy ride in Hunted. She plays Sam Hunter, a tireless spy working for a private security firm called Byzantium. It seems to be a mysterious organisation based in a large, bare office in view of St Paul's Cathedral - all we know is that there's not always proper milk in the fridge and they have a large table in a meeting room that's like an enormous iPad but with no access to anything fun.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Great British Bake Off: Everyone's an armchair baker now

You might think there's only limited fun you can have in a large marquee in the middle of a wet field and decked out with reasonably stylish kitchen equipment as if in preparation for a slightly retro-themed Jubilee party, but in The Great British Bake Off, they manage not only the fun, but a bit of tension too - and that comes from more than just the occasionally annoying thrill of wondering exactly how presenters Mel and Sue might pronounce the word 'bake!' when the competitors begin their work.

The programme, featuring an ever dwindling number of contestants baking food to be judged and eaten in pursuit of the title of Great British Bake Off's Best Amateur Baker, is simultaneously evocative not only of a simpler time when people from the 1950s baked cakes in a nice apron a lot, but also a salute to unusual but successful on-screen pairings - and we don't mean Mel and Sue.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Sarah Beeny's Double Your House... Never underestimate the power of the Beeny

It's like the producers of Sarah Beeny's latest tv exploit, Double Your House For Half The Money, knew the middle class couple, Edward and Louise from Buckinghamshire, who over-burdened themselves with an ambitious redevelopment plan for their country cottage, might be a little bit alienating for some parts of the audience.

It is, after all, quite hard to care about a couple who get so financially desperate they have to sell their Porsche to help fund the ever-increasing costs of their open-plan kitchen/diner space, complete with a 24 grand bespoke kitchen as its centre-piece.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Doctor Who - A Town Called Mercy: Fancy that - a self-reflective cyborg killer in a cowboy hat

Like many things in life, what you judge to be good and bad is all about perspective – one on hand you've got your genius doctor Kahler-Jex who is responsible for horrific experiments to help his race survive a war (bad); on the other you see he's become a valuable asset to a small town called Mercy (good) and therefore, despite what he’s done in the past, the locals want to protect him from the vigilante cyborg who's hunting him as revenge for those experiments.

So far, so ambiguous, but A Town Called Mercy disguised any potential placard waving - adorned with the words WE’RE DEALING WITH IMPORTANT ISSUES HERE AND THE SUBSEQUENT SHADES OF GREY THEREIN, VIEWERS (it was a big placard) - with an episode that was visually strong and looked great, especially on tv-ooh's 37" HD telly.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Good Cop: Not what we expected, but we like it for it

We were pretty indifferent about Good Cop, as it goes: yeah, we'll watch, we thought. Probably enjoy it, too. What we didn't expect was what we got: a brooding essay on the confused morals of a law enforcer taking that law enforcement into his own hands in an act of vengeance and the terrible spiralling consequences therein. You didn't either, no?

There are so many good police-based dramas that the prospect of a new one doesn't always feel that exciting. But shows like Line of Duty, The Bridge and The Killing have been great tv, while long runners like New Tricks and those afternoon nap-accompanying repeats of Midsomer Murders still get an audience - every market is catered for.

But Good Cop feels like something a bit different. Just when you thought it was going to be a slightly run of the mill police yarn following the gritty urban adventures of PC John Paul Rocksavage - or Sav - and his fellow cop Andy Stockwell, Andy gets beaten up and killed while on duty in a targeted attack.

As a result, Sav starts to question his beliefs in right and wrong, and this leads him to shoot dead the assailant, Finch (who Sav had earlier seen threatening a woman), and then going onto to attack one of Finch's accomplices - and all while officially still working as on the case.

You never got that in The Bill.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Revenge: Which character needs the most psychological help do you think?

Ah, the self-obsessed goings-on of a bunch of selfish but rich characters with an identity-swapping minx intent on revenge in the middle of it all.

If you're not watching Revenge, E4 on Mondays at 9, you'll be unfamiliar with the brilliantly addictive nonsense of Emily Thorne's pursuit of vengeance against the family who framed her father for a crime he didn't commit.

We're far too far into season one to recap in any great detail - and to do so would require a bit of Valium afterwards, frankly - but, in summary, Emily has fallen for the son, Daniel, of the couple she's trying to bring down - awkward - and the person whose identity she took while in a young offender institution has turned up and is wooing Emily's childhood friend, Jack.

There's also a mysterious shooting at her beach engagement party, where everyone wore red and white, but we're still coming to terms with that.

It is, all told, enough to send anyone into therapy, but who in Revenge would actually benefit from some talking time?

In short, everyone. But in long, let's have a look:

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Doctor Who - Dinosaurs on a Spaceship review: 'Part comedy romp, part genocide-wreaking villian'

Mostly feeling a bit like a Disney movie, except with salty innuendo that would never have made it past the censor had it actually been a Disney movie, and noticeable for missing any sort of cameo from someone like Danny DeVito, in some ways Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was all over the place - but not necessarily in a bad way.

Part comedy romp with a sparky script, part encounter with a space pirate called Soloman who is partial to a bit of genocide, the swift introductions of one-off companions Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, and Victorian hunter-man Riddell, along with the reintroductions of Amy, Rory and now Rory's dad Brian, followed by their arrival on the ship of dinosaurs, and all before the opening titles - made for a breathless start.

And, like trying to suck up to your boss but in front of the entire nation, it felt a bit like writer Chris Chibnell was aping the style and pace of showrunner Steven Moffat's scripts, mirroring the way Moffat sets up his 'big', multi-stranded episodes so quickly, like in The Pandorica Opens, say: jumping across time and space and leaving the viewer both excited and amused but slightly fearful of confusion.

Or maybe they both just know how to write Doctor Who episodes that feel a bit filmy.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Doctor Who - Asylum of the Daleks review: An 'all-guns-blazing season opener' + surprise

We're still taking it all in, but it was pretty good wasn't it? One of the first episodes in a long time that you immediately want to watch again for the details you might have missed.

From Amy Pond swishing about as a model on a staircase in her normal life away from space travel, to the Doctor being summoned to a CGI-rendered Skaro (home planet of the Daleks, don't you know) by a woman with a mini-Dalek eye stalk popping out of her forehead, to a slightly-altered title sequence with a new font for the words (details!) and a tweaked logo - it felt exciting to have Doctor Who back on tv: the same, but different.

And, as an episode from the pen of the show's chief writer and show-runner Steven Moffat, and as an all-guns-blazing season opener, it's fair to say expectations were high - not least because of the 'movie poster' style images released for each of this year's five new episodes, and promises of every Dalek ever seen in the show making an appearance in this one.

But what was it like?

Friday, 31 August 2012

Doctor Who: It's fair to say none of these characters will be in the new series


Oh to be a minor character in a reasonable but not amazing Doctor Who episode. Not a Dalek, not a Cyberman, or a Weeping Angel - just, you know, a plot function in a mid-season episode: someone to just help tell the story.

A character that's unlikely to ever appear again; to be forgotten by the general viewing public and perhaps destined only to repeats on BBC Three or a clip on an actor's show reel, and maybe a few convention appearances in a version of the costume they mocked up themselves and got a bit wrong.

At best, their character will even have some lines to say, but their story will be over in one episode. Unless, of course, the character becomes an action figure - everyone loves an action figure, and Doctor Who fans will buy anything, right?

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Paralympics opening ceremony: Nice apples, but where was the parachuting senior Royal?

To be honest, we’re still not entirely sure what the opening ceremony of the Paralympics was all about, apart from the giant apples, but then that’s probably ok – sometimes it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the spectacle, even if that spectacle sometimes feels like a Pet Shop Boys concert with wheelchair users on enormous fruit and hundreds of umbrellas in the sky and something or other about ‘enlightenment’.

It all looked like quite a good laugh, and the music was generally good, too - no George Michael single promotion here, cheers - even if at times the event's smaller budget seemed evident. Where was the parachuting senior Royal?

Even so, it had enough moments to tick the boxes marked ‘humbling’, ‘inspirational’ and ‘Beverley Knight’, but right now tv-ooh’s main concern is that the many volunteers who did all the dancing  - moving from side to side while the athletes entered the stadium in the procession, alternating moves of hand claps and hand rolls as they shuffled from one foot to the other like some sort of drug-crazed dance-bot, and bedecked in fetchingly attractive (ie not fetchingly attractive) purple trainers – are now getting the medical help they need. 

They must have been knackered.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Accused: Jimmy McGovern does the wicked stepmother in Stephen's Story

You know you'll never come away from watching an episode of The Accused feeling happy and lark-some, but the relentlessly grim 60 minutes of drama it offers always seems to be as gripping as it is bleak, so you don't mind so much the feeling of having been beaten to a gibbering wreck come the start of the Ten O'Clock news.

Nestling, as it does, somewhere in between the greyness of tragedy and the blackness of misery, episode three of this series (the second) follows the downward spiral of 17-year-old Stephen after the death of his mother to cancer. We learn via flashback that he's had mental health problems before, but his suspicions that his mother's nurse, Charlotte, hastened her death in order to bag Stephen's father trigger further problems.

What you get, more or less, is a Jimmy McGovern-take on idea of the wicked stepmother, shot in a freezing-looking Stalybridge, Lancashire, with mental health issues for added dramatic grit, and a serious turn from stand-up comic John Bishop, playing Stephen's dad and who can't quite cope with his son and lets himself be ruled by Charlotte. And no, he doesn't do any jokes.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Made in Chelsea series four: This is what we know

Everyone's favourite made-up so-called 'structured reality' relationship knees-up with nice hair and the odd dim-wit here and there - aka Made in Chelsea - is due to return to E4 'this autumn', which means, probably, a Monday in mid-September.

In between promoting their own products or businesses, or appearing in magazines or saying stuff on Twitter, the cast have been filming since July and, of the cast, some people have left, some people have stayed, some people have said they're staying and then left, and then some people who we haven't seen before will also be appearing but how much they'll get to do depends on how much trouble they cause, really. 

It is, in short, a brand new series and the whole prospect is quite exciting - but we think the hair will still be the same, ie perfect at all times, and we also think there will be Champagne on order and lots of half-finished drinks in nice cafe/bars, too. So that's a relief, eh.

This is what we know:

Friday, 17 August 2012

London 2012 Olympics: Twelve things we're missing about the Olympics on tv

How are you coping, readers? Around these parts of the internet we were unashamedly IN SUPPORT OF the Olympics and everything that that entailed, and, as a result, we're not faring too well in its wake, as it happens.

It does, in particular, and like most things here on tv-ooh, relate to watching television.

How did we ever manage prior to wall-to-wall coverage of sport of varying quality and engagement, delivered to us by presenters of varying quality and engagement, all mainly from a glass box on top of some shipping containers at the Olympic park in east London?

Suddenly Homes Under the Hammer just isn't enough anymore for daytime. Cash in the Attic just feels hollow; empty somehow. If there's not a live programme linked to wining a competition recognised by a medal and a small bunch of flowers then there's just no point to it. And no, the phone-in competitions on This Morning don't count.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

BBC Panorama: Introducing the new Panorama-matrix-machine-pad graphics interface thing

Somewhere deep in the BBC, probably in a corner of the Panorama office next to the photocopier or maybe over by the stationery cupboard, there is an expensive, interactive, giant iPad-style device, mixing virtual, intelligent graphics that are responsive to a swish of a palm or a prod of a finger of a bemused journalist who is more occupied with hoping that no one will notice he has forgotten to iron his new shirt.

Let's call it the Panorama-matrix-machine-pad, shall we? It's not a very catchy name but let's go with it for now.

It can't help with the ironing, but the idea is that it helps present otherwise dry information in a whizzy, funky way for the benefit of the viewer, like a sexier white board without the need for blu-tack or a marker pen.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Accused: Anyone order a Sean Bean in drag?

There are some things in life that are so unlikely they will never even cross your mind - and the site of burly man-actor Sean Bean fleeing for his life in a wet Peak District in January, dressed in a tight red dress and ripped black stockings, is one of them.

The scenes were from the climax of the first episode of the new series of BBC One's Accused - four self-contained, high-quality, one hour episodes exploring an individual's guilt or innocence as they stand in the dock, accused (hence..) - and given that the tv-drama-overlord-in-chief Jimmy McGovern is at the helm, actors of the calibre of Sean Bean want to be involved. Even if that means putting on a frock.

He tells the BBC media centre: “I had a call from my agent saying, ‘Do you fancy playing a transvestite?’ I said, ‘Not really, why?’

Monday, 13 August 2012

London 2012 Olympics: A generally quite positive review of the closing ceremony including inevitable Spice Girls reference

After surpassing even the most ambitious of expectations for all-round feel good amazingness, much of which was due to Clare Balding and her remarkable flick-fringe hair arrangement, the intention of the Olympic organisers to have the Games go out with the biggest-possible bang seemed only fitting for such a successful event.

The medals, the tears, the tracksuits - oh how we were gripped during the 17 days of genuinely unforgettable sporting fun.

And amid talk of Spice Girls atop buses and Pet Shop Boys in funny hats, expectations were dizzingly high - and matched only by fears of a reappearance by an obligatory Beatle, which in real terms means Paul McCartney.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

London 2012 Olympics: So was that opening ceremony one of the best tv shows ever? YES IT WAS

If, like tv-ooh, you were one of the estimated 27 million UK viewers watching the Olympic opening ceremony, many with a large drink in hand and a slack-jawed gape of the face, no doubt you would have MARVELLED at the befuddling spectacle of it all.

You may have also felt, in turn, BEMUSEMENT at the dirty-faced miners trudging into the stadium only to launch into some surprising and synchronised kung-fu style choreography - we never knew miners had such funk - before six chimneys emerged, dramatically, from the ground to the beat of a progressively rousing soundtrack, while other volunteers - munchkins? - rolled up huge sections of turf, like gardeners with a fetish for attention-seeking, and then we think a house appeared in the middle of the stadium and faces of people were projected onto it.

We remember only snatches of it - like a muddled clips show of the mind, or like trying to recall a drunken night out - such was the magnitude of it all.

Friday, 27 July 2012

London 2012 Olympics: Edie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous in amusing 'in character' interview

The above video, in case you're wondering, is from the Channel 4 News website, and is journalist Paraic O'Brien interviewing Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.

But the thing is, they're in character, see, as Edie and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous and it follows the pair's spell running with the Olympic torch in London.

It's like reality and fiction blurring into one, while someone else tempts you with a Rolo.

You want to make sense of it, but sense has no place here - just watch and enjoy it. And eat the Rolo.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Blackout: 'A stylishly bleak urban-frown drama'

If ever you've wondered what Christopher Eccleston might look like had he been cast as an alcoholic Batman but without the costume or physique, while holding down a job in local government in the north west of England, than BBC One's stylishly bleak urban-frown drama Blackout might have provided a clue about what to expect.

Set in an unidentified British city - all 'City Hall' this, 'Metropolitan Hall' that, and achingly stylish warehouse conversions competing for the viewers' attention whenever they appeared - a brooding Eccleston played Daniel Demoys, whose disintegrating life was grimly captured over the story's three hours.

Beginning with cleverly-filmed rain-soaked aerial shots of illuminated sky scrapers at night, like a Gotham City without the dark knight, we see Demoys standing on the edge of a high rise, possibly considering jumping to his grisly doom.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Idle speculation and uninformed pondering about the title of the first episode of the new Doctor Who series

A while ago, back in April, tv-ooh speculated about what this here picture could possibly, possibly mean - given that it showed the Doctor and Amy from Doctor Who and a dusty old-style Dalek, which may or may not have been the result of some over-keen props kid on work experience going a bit mental with the cobweb aerosol. (You can read that story here. You should - it's good, if you like that type of thing.)

Well, now a little bit more information has been released, and it's as good a reason as any to write a bit more about it all and use the picture again.

So what do we know now? We know that the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who, due late August or September (and following its first showing at the BFI Southbank in London on August 14) will be called Asylum of the Daleks. We already know that the episode is to feature every possible type of Dalek we've ever seen on screen, but now we CAN PUT A TITLE TO THE MADNESS.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

A magazine about soap operas has decided this scene from EastEnders' 'Sharongate' storyline is the best soap scene of the last 20 years

Tv-ooh remembers it well, and it was all Michelle Fowler's fault.

It's 1994 and she's started doing a degree at her local university in east London (but not the actual University of East London, as it was at pains to point out at the time).

And, via getting together with her tutor Geoff in one of the show's most unlikely pairings ever (it was this that the real university was unhappy about), Michelle set about on some sort of local 'oral history' project, which meant she went around interviewing people from the square about their lives - and recording the conversations on tape.

So this was how an otherwise private conversation, carried out over a bottle of wine for added tongue loosening, between Michelle and her best mate Sharon - married to Grant Mitchell, but with feelings for his brother Phil, who was married to Kathy - came into existence.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Spartacus: Blood and Sand: 'Lashings of saucy romping here there and everywhere'

Blood-spattered potty-mouthed live-action comic book Spartacus: Blood and Sand, made by US cable channel Starz in 2009 and getting its first UK terrestial showing on Freeview's Pick TV (that's number 11 to you and me), would be quite a fun little fantasy drama, if it wasn't for the gratuitous decapitations and fountains of blood everywhere.

Of course, if you are going to slice someone's head or leg off in a series about a Gladiator in Roman times who fights a lot, fountains of blood are probably inevitable, but the slo-mo vivid 'fetishisation' of the action is quite something to behold - if you can bear to look, that is.

Equally arresting is the liberal use of the 'c' word, lashings of saucy romping here there and everywhere, and numerous nearly nude bodies, many smeared with grease and baby-oil to indicate toil and sweat, and none of which seem to feel the cold.