Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Blakes 7 DVD rewatch blog

Episode 1 of 52 and our space voyage begins with an episode full of murder, lies and trouble. And lots of dull-looking costumes. The journey begins!

Blake starts to arrange his 'crew' and The Liberator is discovered, and named by Jenna's subconscious (or something) while Avon and Vila begin their bickering.

Jenna gets changed and plots with Avon to abandon Blake after they discover lots of jewellry or something, while Blake himself teleports for the first time in order to 'proper acting' with Brian Blessed, before rescuing new crew members Gan and Vila.

Season 1 Episode 4: Time Squad - Enter Cally the telepath. Hmm

Cally arrives and communicates via telepathy, which at first looks like an awful editing mistake, while later she runs around with Vila, Blake and Avon - and Vila's carrying a cool box.

Series 1 Episode 5: The Web - a moral dilemma with an easy solution
Cally and Jenna get taken over by a spooky force that penetrates the Liberator, in a bad way, while Blake makes a moral judgement over a bunch of squeaky-voiced creatures called Decimas who like a bit of rampage and violence.

Season 1 Episode 6 - Seek-Locate-Destroy: Enter Servalan and Travis, straight from a fetish club
Blake's arch-nemesis Travis arrives, as does the Federation's Supreme Commander Servalan, and together they give the programme an additional, and very stylishly-dressed, kick in the right direction.

All images/screen grabs copyright BBC.

A new episode review will be added every weekend - follow or 'like' tv-ooh to stay updated:

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  • Tuesday, 28 February 2012

    Made in Chelsea series 3 starts on April 2 and this is what we know

    For fans of structured reality and semi-sophisticated young people with AMAZING HAIR and a taste for drinking Champagne in contrived events designed to bring everyone together in order to create a bit of 'argy bargy' for the benefit of us viewers, there is good news - Made in Chelsea season 3 is now absolutely definitely due to start on April 2 on E4 (It was thought to be March 26 but it wasn't. Oh).

    This is what we know so far:

    Monday, 27 February 2012

    Homeland episode 2: Who can we trust, and is that Lynne doomed or what?

    Returned from captivity after eight years, US Marine Nicholas Brody in Homeland isn't coping too well with life back home with his family. With journalists camped outside his house and pressure from his bosses to play up to the role of American hero to the public, for some reason he seems to prefer to spend his time in his new t-shirt and pj bottoms cowering in the corner of his bedroom.

    Sunday, 26 February 2012

    Pan Am: Will it be back for season two? UPDATE: No

    After only 14 episodes, Pan Am has come to an end, and it may never, ever return. Clearly, this is bad bad news for fans of glossy period drama about international travel and light romantic entanglements mixed with occasionally clumsy references to real life historical events from across the globe. And what was also good, if slighty daft, was stewardess Kate's espionage sub-plot - but somehow, it all worked and came together to make good tv, and that's why we're all here after all (sort of).

    And now? Well, now, it's all over. Probably.

    The clue was in the final scene - a sentimental, affectionate, optimistic scene; a scene appropriate for a last-ever episode: a gathering of the six main cast members watching 1963 turn into 1964, but with several character-based cliffhangers that we do actually need to be resolved if you don't mind.

    The final freeze frame - the last ever shot of Pan Am?
    Christina Ricci's Maggie doesn't look that happy about it.
    We have Colette's intention to track down her newly discovered brother; Ted's revived romance with Laura after calling off his engagement with his now-pregnant ex, and Kate's consideration of an offer to become an actual proper spy with training and everything, after a hairy encounter with a double agent in Grand Central Station.

    Captain Dean's been suspended from flying for six months so admittedly he's only got a holiday to look forward to; while Christina Ricci's Maggie has come into some money after some deal or other, and then spent much of that last scene looking awkward while everyone else smiled and embraced ('acted') until the freeze frame.

    They were looking at this CGI image of New York's 1963 New Year's Eve celebrations
    So there's a lot going on, and a lot to come back for, and tv-ooh has stuck with it and grown to like the characters - which must be what all tv drama sets out to do. And, despite erratic scheduling and lots of stories about its likely cancellation due to falling ratings in the US, officially, a decision about a second season is due in May, say US network ABC.

    So let's hope it returns - and if you do too, perhaps start praying to the all-knowing tv commissioning fairies now.

    UPDATE: 13 May 2012 - US network ABC has officially cancelled the show. Boo to that, is all we can say. It's like Defying Gravity all over again.
    Related stories:
    Pan Am: Melodrama hits a new high; gets taken off air. Ho dear
    Pan Am: Enough going on to really take off. DO YOU GET IT?

    Friday, 24 February 2012

    Thursday, 23 February 2012

    The Only Way is Essex - series 4: The good, the bad and the ugly

    It's no good. Tv-ooh can't avoid it any longer. It's the elephant in the room, and it's stretching out its trunk as if to say, 'hhrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn', or, translated, 'you can't ignore me any longer, fool'. So let's not.

    One one hand, The Only Way is Essex has always been a bit pointless, but now it's becoming a bit pointless AND a bit unwatchable, which as anyone will know is one of the biggest crimes you can get with television programmes, on account of the fact that their main function is to be watchable.

    Tv-ooh has an enduring loyalty and some sort of inexplicable 'soft spot' towards Essex and has enjoyed talking about it both here and here, and so is still officially giving it a chance, but this current series, its fourth, sometimes feels a bit more miss than hit, despite healthy viewing figures.

    Why? I'll tell you why:

    The trio of simpletons in search of a storyline

    Arg, Joey and Diag make chilli-flavoured sandwiches and fart into tents 'for a laugh' do not entertaining scenes make. But the fact that even Joey and Diags are laughing at Arg's interminable attempts at 'talking about his feelings', having been primed by a forceful producer standing just off camera with a red hot poker, taps into how we, as the audience, have all been feeling for years. Please stop talking Arg, especially about your feelings. You're not very good at it. Oh and put some socks on, your feet are in a right state, thanks.

    Ching Chang Walla

    Everyone else calls this Scissor Paper Stone.

    Sam has a new haircut

    Sam of Sam and Billie 'fame' (they are both businesswomen remember who run some sort of clothes shop which appears to involve standing around a lot) has a new haircut, a bob, that makes her look like Mark's mum Carol. "How are you coping with it anyway?" asks Carol, not unreasonably. It seems Sam is bearing up. Meanwhile, sister Billie appears after ten minutes in the toilet. Will this be picked up at a later date? Has she got 'bum trouble'? We dare not speculate.

    Cara kisses Ricky

    "I kissed Ricky," says Cara.
    "You kissed Ricky?!" Lucy seeks clarification.
    "I kissed Ricky!" confirms Cara.
    "You kissed Ricky! Shut up!"
    "I thought he was gay?" chips in Mario, helpfully.

    Call BAFTA!

    New lads low on charm but high on petulant self-absorption (possibly)

    Cara's brother Tom and new lad Ricky (see above) are both potential prize fools guilty of taking themselves a bit too seriously and thinking they are good looking and handsome. Both also seem to be filling the void left by Angry Kirk, who has never been mentioned since he left, despite his father Mick still appearing regularly. Does he realise he once had a son? Departed characters are forgotten characters in Essex.

    Chloe's amazing witticisms arising out her of beguiling dimness, God love her

    "Do you know what pancake day is for and why we celebrate it? Basically it means pancake day is 40 days before Easter, and people who are religious, I think it's Catholics, they do that, um, was it Eid, Zeed, Zen, what is it? Len? Lent. They give up something and in the olden days they'd use up all the stuff on pancake day and not eat for 40 days. It should be all about celebrating from Essex, that's what it should all be about."


    Did she ever get her bum implants by the way?

    The new camp gay who presumably is a like a replacement for Harry but with a job

    The new hairstylist from the salon next door to Lydia's shop is called Bobby and looks like Gok Wan. He says he gets that a lot so it must be a self-conscious styling choice, to make people say, 'oh he looks like Gok Wan'. Bobby gets given a cup cake from Lydia. She says it's been on the floor but Bobby says he doesn't mind. Is this a hint at self-esteem issues or is he just fine with floor dust? Bobby and Lydia agree to 'go out' and a new on-screen friendship is born in 90 seconds. That's all fine, just as long as Lydia doesn't get back with Arg. We've done that particular plot line to death.

    So will we be watching again?

    Yes. Yes we will. Despite some of these plot threads not being as strong or as entertaining as one might like there are still glimpses of Essex fun, and it is this we need to cling on to.

    Also, rest assured we will be monitoring Billie's time spent in the loo closely, too.

    Previous related stories:
    The Only Way is Essex: Maria's "worst week"; reality redefined (again); and a flppin' colonic for Arg. Give me strength
    An inexplicably serious and thoughtful review of The Only Way is Essex series 3 episode 1
    Only Way Is Essex: Series two - a verdict: the winners, the losers
    Only Way Is Essex - the dumbed down, dumbed down
    Only Way Is Essex: Reality/drama hybrid wins heart, confuses mind

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  • Wednesday, 22 February 2012

    The Cleveland Show: "A strong sense of the nonsensical and bizarre," apparently

    You might not like it, you might not know it, you might be asking yourself 'eh?', or you might be thinking 'I won't read this one, where's the stuff about Made In Chelsea?', but no matter, because this post is about The Cleveland Show, an animated sitcom 'for adults', and a hitherto neglected show on tv-ooh's Freeview radar. That's a notional radar by the way.

    The Cleveland Show, a spin off from Family Guy about an uncomplicated family man called Cleveland Brown who reunites with his first love Donna and becomes part of her family in the fictional Virginia town of Stoolbend, is currently trundling through its second season on E4 (Tuesdays at 10, schedule seekers). In the US a fourth season has just been commissioned, which means, if nothing else, someone at the Fox network quite likes it - or at least wants to keep the show's creator Seth MacFarlane (who also runs Family Guy and American Dad!) close to hand, possibly so he can make more off-colour jokes about paedophiles in Family Guy, possibly not.

    Cleveland's sitcom adventures aren't quite as grotesque as Family Guy, but have a sharper and sometimes cruder edge than The Simpsons - The Cleveland Show both knowingly mocks and imitates its most obvious inspiration: cosy family sitcoms like The Cosby Show about African American families full of smart quips and a self-contained 'dilemma of the week' that's all resolved at the end.

    Self aware and with a strong sense of the nonsensical and bizarre (one of Cleveland's friends is Tim the Bear - he is a bear), it's the main character's likeable nature which means there's something approaching warmth and heart in the show - but a biting comment is never too far away, like Cleveland angrily telling his wife he'll dance on her grave when he sulks about her replacing him with his son Cleveland Jr in a dance competition: "I'm going to enter that competition and win and my new dancing partner and I will dance on your grave.... oh I went too far, sorry about that." Later Cleveland Jr asks his father to leave the family home, having fallen in love with his step mother. Only after Cleveland rents a bachelor pad and buys new furniture for it does he realise his son can't talk to him like that, and returns to sort it out.

    Or perhaps you have to see it for yourself. Either way, The Cleveland Show is currently tv-ooh's favourite US animated sitcom on at 10pm on a Tuesday evening.

    Tuesday, 21 February 2012

    Upstairs Downstairs: Hello I'm back and it's the 1930s and I'm quite posh

    There's more clipped vowels and covered-over double yellow lines plus shots of Anne Reid carrying wicker baskets while wearing a hat a lot then, as the new series of the revived Upstairs Downstairs rolls into view like a wobbly Penny Farthing bicycle on a single-minded pursuit of 'period' detail.

    Now back for a full run of, er, six episodes after its three episode stint over Christmas 2010, the two original matriarchs and co-creators of the show have upped sticks and gorn (Jean Marsh is off sick but back later in the run, and Dame Eileen Aitkens didn't fancy coming back at all so her character Lady Holland's ashes are on the mantle-piece) but the stiff upper lip of Upstairs Downstairs is not for quivering.

    Instead, Alex Kingston has joined the cast playing herself again as Dr Blanche Mottershead, and so far, she can often be found smoking a cigar and championing the rights of the disabled or the benefits of a plant-based diet, which is all very forward thinking for the 1930s. Fortunately, she's also very watchable so the absence of Marsh and Atkins isn't too noticeable, so that's all alright then.

    And while we're on Alex Kingston, she's playing an archaeologist again, although this is not her River Song from Doctor Who with her hair up - for a start, she's not in a demin jacket, and she says things like "I've ordered you porridge with black molasses strips," and she knows about vitamins. SHE KNOWS ABOUT VITAMINS!

    Cook Mrs Thackeray gives her ideas short-shrift, mind you. Safe in her downstairs world, she grumbles: "I don't know why she's peddlin' all this new-fangled trash. Lady Agnes [having just given birth prematurely and now recovering from a blood transfusion] doesn't need vitamins, she needs liver."

    Whether Lady Agnes ever gets her liver remains to be seen of course, but in the meantime there's the prospect of war, the worry of finding Mr Amanjit a decent plot now his function as the late Lady Holland's secretary is redundant, and whether those scenes with the monkey in the gas proof pram contraption was just the bizarre result of too much Sunday evening Ovaltine or if it did really happen.

    Either way, we'll be back at 165 Eaton Place next week for more of its slightly lumbering charm, and also a fair amount of simmering sexual tension between the frisky driver Harry Spargo, with his swollen knuckles and his lingering looks, as a swooning sax plays from somewhere, and the new maid Beryl Ballard who had the RADA-denying task of rinsing out a bucket of soiled nappies while trying not to notice him or admit her mother really did kill herself.

    It's drama, but not as we know it. And if you were to choose, would you go for life upstairs or life downstairs? Downstairs definitely looks like more fun but we'll take the clipped vowels and fine bone china tea-cups of life upstairs, please. Thanks awfully.

    Related stories:
    Upstairs Downstairs: So that was series 2, but will there be a series 3? 
    Upstairs Downstairs: Series 2 episode 5: War is coming.. via cook's Lady Fingers
    Upstairs Downstairs series 2 episode 2: Dinners, oysters and violet macaroons
    Upstairs Downstairs: When 'downstairs' pretend they're 'up'

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  • Monday, 20 February 2012

    Homeland: It's all in the finger tapping, probably

    Paranoia and intrigue seem to be high on the menu with Homeland, Channel 4's slick new US drama.

    A presumed-dead Marine is found in the captivity of Al-Qaeda after eight years missing; he has a shave and a haircut (no-one wants a lead with long straggly hair), and returns to America a hero - but he has to adjust to life back home.

    Despite that set-up, it's not a sitcom: there aren't any comedy misunderstandings where he's perplexed by the intricacies of internet banking or has to remember how to use the tumble dryer, although he does get a bit jumpy when his wife pulls off the price tag he'd forgotten to remove from his new tartan PJ bottoms.

    Instead, things are far more serious. British actor Damian Lewis's portrayal of the mysterious soldier Nicholas Brody matches the pervading mood of the show: all quiet and brooding.

    Reunited with children who don't remember him and with a wife who had secretly moved on to another lover, Brody has a lot to take in, and you could forgive him his polite but stunned reactions. At least until you see how he greets an old soldier friend called Mike, that is - their big warm bear hug is far more enthusiastic than the one Brody even gave his wife, so the inevitable moment when Brody discovers that Mike's been seeing his wife should be a scene to watch out for. 

    Even all of this would be fairly straightforward and even a bit mundane if it wasn't for a sparky CIA analyst called Carrie Mathison (Clare Danes). Every show needs a sparky CIA analyst, especially one with a bit of 'danger'. Carrie remembers a tip off from an informer while on a job in Iraq, when she was told that a US prisoner of war would be plotting against the US government, but until the discovery of Brody she wasn't aware there were any.

    A quick installation of covert cameras in Brody's home later, and the discovery that she takes anti-psychotic medication which she keeps hidden in an aspirin bottle (you see: danger!), we're being asked if we can even trust our brave soldier. A few scenes earlier he was our damaged hero, having an early morning run past the White House to clear his head - and now we're wondering if he was just plotting to blow it up.

    It feels quite clever and slick, and Carrie's information turns everything on its head. And, when she spots him perform a mysterious and apparently specific finger tap whenever he appears on television, as if drumming out a message to his co-conspirators, we start to doubt him too. A bit.

    So paranoia, intrigue - and finger tapping. Who would've thought?

    Related stories:
    - Homeland episode 1: It's all in the finger tapping, probably
    - Homeland episode 2: Who can we trust, and is that Lynne doomed or what?
    - Homeland: Key points from an interview with its writers and creators Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa
    - Homeland: Well that'll teach her to take her men-folk back to the country cabin, won't it

    Sunday, 19 February 2012

    Blakes 7 DVD rewatch: Season 1 episode 3 - Cygnus Alpha: BRIAN BLESSED; plot holes

    What happens in this one?
    Captive on a Federation prison ship called London, Blake and the other prisoners are on their way from Earth to prison planet Cygnus Alpha, a journey of eight months. Realising a voyage that long would make appalling television, Blake and his new-found acquaintances and fellow prisoners, lock-picker Vila and glamorous smuggler and pilot Jenna, meet the arch computer expert Avon and the heavyweight Gan. Spaceship The Liberator (although we don't know it by name yet) is found floating empty in space en route, but members of the London's crew who were sent to investigate all vanish. Blake, Jenna and Avon, having hatched a plan to disrupt and commandeer the London, are ordered to venture on board the mysterious ship, but instead take its helm, thinking they can use the ship to help fight the Federation.

    Thursday, 9 February 2012

    EastEnders: Mandy vs Lucy and the strange pleasure of a quick plot recap from 20 years ago

    If you've been watching a telly programme on and off for 27 years, the enormous amount of trivia you've unconsciously amassed about said telly programme is enormous.

    And while there is undoubtedly no other man as fundamentally unattractive as EastEnders' Ian Beale - although tv-ooh concedes he may have a few redeeming features in terms of his role as a father, probably - nonetheless there is some interest in seeing the ups and downs (but mainly downs, as this is EastEnders) of a character you've seen regularly for nearly 30 years, and who is now the only remaining original cast member.

    It must be a form of attachment, or, at least, familiarity. And all that trivia in your head gets a reward when those longer term characters remember past events of their own fictional lives.

    It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's weirdly interesting. The latest example is with Mandy Slater, back in the Square since August 2011 after 17 years away. Somehow she's now planning to marry Ian Beale, and has decided to try and win over his horror-show of a daughter, Lucy, after a bumpy relationship.

    The turning point was Lucy throwing a cup of coffee over Mandy during a wedding dress fitting, in front of the campest wedding dress designer ever seen - who should be given a recurring speaking role immediately, by the way: EastEnders could do with some more comedy, and where better than from a stereotyped camp gay who flaps for England?

    But in trying to make peace with Lucy, a chat between them gives Mandy a chance to go over her original storylines, but it's just as much an opportunity for longer term viewers to retrieve those episodes we'd forgotten we remembered.

    From her arrival in the Square in 1992 when she was placed in the care of Pat after her sick mum couldn't cope with her, to how horrible she was to Kathy when she tried to help her, and then how her boyfriend - the Irish footballer Aiden, who was taken in by Arthur - went off the rails after he became ill with depression. Oh it was a miserable, miserable time, and she was a miserable, miserable character. There were plans for Aiden, a football whizz who often wore a green tracksuit despite only having a nodding aquaintance with a football pitch, to jump off a tower block on Christmas Day in 1993. But, thankfully, it was decided that it was too depressing even for EastEnders, so Aiden returned home instead, leaving Mandy distraught. Same outcome, less miserable method.

    Maybe the idea for reminding us about all of this is to show how Mandy isn't actually that different from Lucy after all, and that they've both had difficult lives but also have a love for Ian. Either way, it's a nice mini-wallow, and who doesn't like a nice wallow? It's cold, it's dark, it's prime wallow time. It's also a reminder of EastEnders' long history, and although a few hazily-framed flashbacks might have been nice, it's better those memories are recounted just like our own - verbally, and summarised in 45 seconds with all the dull and irritating bits cut out and delivered with dramatic effect to make the listener think in some way. Or is that just tv-ooh?

    Roll on the return of Sharon, another long running character, and her quivering bottom lip and the inevitable fight to win back the Vic.

    Tv-ooh is moderately excited.

    Related stories:
    Oh! Ben in EastEnders: Why are you and other gay soap teens basically a bit crazy?
    EastEnders' Yusef: the stare, the suits, the walk, the man. TERRIFYING
    EastEnders: "I want pizza and I want Hazell Dean!"
    EastEnders: Zoe Lucker's Vanessa and her white trouser suit loses plot; shoe; shouts a lot 
    Oh, Pam St Clement (Pat in EastEnders): What are your post-soap options?

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  • Blakes 7 DVD rewatch: Season 1 episode 2: Space Fall - story grips, effects do not

    What happens in this one?
    Captive on a Federation prison ship called London, Blake and the other prisoners are on their way from Earth to prison planet Cygnus Alpha, a journey of eight months. Realising a voyage that long would make appalling television, Blake and his new-found acquaintances and fellow prisoners, lock-picker Vila and glamorous smuggler and pilot Jenna, meet the arch computer expert Avon and the heavyweight Gan. Spaceship The Liberator (although we don't know it by name yet) is found floating empty in space en route, but members of the London's crew who were sent to investigate all vanish. Blake, Jenna and Avon, having hatched a plan to disrupt and commandeer the London, are ordered to venture on board the mysterious ship, but instead take its helm, thinking they can use the ship to help fight the Federation.

    Wednesday, 8 February 2012

    The Fabulous Baker Brothers: Less 'rivalry' and scripted banter, but we'd still eat your pies

    There's only one thing more amusing than hearing a posh boy being all cool and trendy and generally just 'on it', and that is two posh boys trying to be.

    The Fabulous Baker Brothers - aka ACTUAL brothers Tom and Henry Herbert (one's a baker, the other a chef and a butcher) - have been, like, mixin' it up in their trendy kitchen hang-out every week, making tasty-looking 'grub for the boys' like Eggs Benedict and home-made burgers with 'cheeky little buns', and saying things like: "We're going to put the BITE back into the CREDIT CRUNCH," and "We want you to get more BANG for your BUCK," and the dubious-sounding "You can put anything in A BANGER."

    He's talking about sausages.

    One (Henry) always wears an army green t-shirt and the other (Tom) always wears a black t-shirt, which, troublingly, always seems to be covered in flour; and each week, as well as the food-cooking in a kitchen that (of course) has exposed brickwork, they sit upon a distressed-leather Chesterfield sofa (on the sofa's arms, mind, not the seat bit) and set each other a challenge in some sort of pie contest, called Pie War, because they are 'rivals'.

    The result is lots of clunky banter while they make their own pies, before they each take their efforts to a group of people who vote on which one they prefer. Highlights so far include a group of embarrassed-looking trainee hairdressers, who were probably all on diets and hadn't eaten since Monday; and a bunch of half-asleep students, who didn't fancy any food due to their enormous hangovers. But Henry's dishes are currently winning the contest, 4 to 1: "Catch me if you CAN," baits Henry.

    The guys - Tom's the older, shorter, sweeter one, who'd be grateful; while Henry's the younger, cockier one who looks like he'd mess you about but you would totally love it and he knows it - pick up the 'geezer with kitchen know-how' mantle first displayed on tv many years ago by Jamie Oliver. The Herbert brothers throw a public school accent into the mix, meaning that, in Tom and Henry's language, they TURN THE HEAT UP TO ELEVEN.

    That's all fine - we all love a simple idea dressed up with 'lifestyle' schtick for tv entertainment purposes - but the difference is that Jamie Oliver never sounded like he was reading from a script. Tom and Henry are clearly nice guys who know their stuff, but they need to be allowed to just be themselves, and become less of a slave to some of the clunky scripting, that shoe-horned in rivalry, or that emphasis on keeping things 'simple' and 'easy' because we're all 'blokes', mate: "The great bit about this is that we're doing it all in the same pan so there's no washing up. Well, one bit of washing up."

    A slightly forced-sounding emphasis in their voice-over delivery and sometimes in their pieces to camera should perhaps be abandoned or less scripted until they become better at it; for now just let them get on with the baking. If the show's to return for a second series (which it should do) they need to just be themselves, or get in someone else to narrate.

    And as for that supposed rivalry - easy. Get their mother in to preside over proceedings. She'll see there's no cockiness and put an end to that enforced banter and silliness. She could arrange a rota for the washing up, and get those t-shirts cleaned. Anyone who's passed on a tip to their sons about filling an empty tomato tin with water in order to get the most amount of juice out of it and into your dish is probably a force to be reckoned with. And like all of us, she probably secretly favours Henry too.

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  • Tuesday, 7 February 2012

    Being Human: Series 4 - blood and gore and slit throats with quips

    Ooh it's a bleak dystopian future! Tv-ooh loves a bleak dystopian future! Admittedly, tv-ooh's not so big on blood and gore and slit throats - oh that poor, poor social worker - but that's all part of the deal with Being Human. Well, that and the razor-sharp witty quips that would put the writers of Friends to shame - a fact even more remarkable given the dark or life-threatening nature of many of the scenes in which these quips appear. Tv-ooh would be panicking if faced with a werewolf, not quipping.

    And as well as that bleak and mysterious depiction of London in 2037 - all subterranean Victorian tunnels and nicely retro chains of light bulbs pinned to the roof (you can just imagine this secret society of vampires planning the interior design: "You know we really need to pick out that brickwork detail.") - there was lots of New Stuff going on, and a handful of new characters, which will (hopefully) make sense over the coming eight weeks.

    This fourth season of Being Human is working hard to reboot itself. It's got a lot to do: the show's lost three of its four leads: long-haired vampire and mass-murderer Mitchell's gone, killed by werewolf George at the end of last season, while, off screen, George's girlfriend and fellow werewolf Nina was murdered, too. What, no over-wrought leaving scene?

    And then there's George himself: Russell Tovey, who played him, has said the thought of doing the show without Aiden Turner (as Mitchell) would be strange, so he's left now as well, which also probably explains why Nina had to go. George got a fitting (ie bloody then tearful) end: he forced himself to change into a werewolf in order to escape from a prison cell so he could rescue his baby, Eve, but in doing so, and without the usual influence of a full moon, his transformation gave himself major organ failure and died within seconds, but not before naming his baby. Disappointingly, at no point did he add: "I'm off for a film career, darlings!"

    So that only leaves Lenora Crichlow as Annie, a ghost that only werewolfs or vampires can see, and a character forever stuck in a grey cardigan. Hopefully, given her status as the sole original cast member, she'll get more to do now than the usual 'supporting character' stuff she'd regularly get given - werewolves and vampires seem to get much more action than ghosts - perhaps ghosts aren't in Equity.

    Annie is joined by new two new sidekicks, werewolf Tom and vampire Hal, but some fans are worried the cast changes might damage the show. That, of course, remains to be seen, but the programme should be just fine - and the notion that a show can't sustain major cast changes is a bit nonsensical, frankly.

    Fans might miss favourite characters, of course, but that's something different - and behind the scenes, it's still the same team at work, and good drama is mainly about good writing. Even so, Being Human has come a long way from its slightly 'quirky supernatural comedy drama' origins, so a new cast and new mythology is all part of its evolution - and those scenes set in the future offer plenty of teasers of what may be to come: there's 'a war child', who might be Eve as an adult, and we see her going off on a mission of some kind. And then there's Tom: he slayed a couple of vampires and quipped about the time his parents got eaten. In other words, business as usual but with different faces.

    Like we say: blood and gore and slit throats with quips.

    Monday, 6 February 2012

    Blakes 7 DVD rewatch: Season 1 episode 1: The Way Back. Sci-fi for grown ups?


    What happens in this one?
    On a bleak, dystopian Earth, we meet freedom-fighter Roj Blake as he begins to rediscover himself after having had his memory erased by totalitarian rotters 'The Federation'. After four years of drug-induced placidity, a new group of Outsiders remind him of his past role as a high profile rebel. Fearing Blake will again emerge as a resistance figurehead, the Federation's administration frame him for crimes he didn't commit. There's lots of fighting, treachery and killing - it's a very dark time, you see. His punishment is an exile on a penal colony, and, with efforts to free him proving hopeless, Blake ends up on a prison ship where he meets a glamorous space smuggler and a cowardly comedy lock-picker, as well as lots of extras in tunics. Everyone speaks terribly proper as is the custom for all television drama of this period.