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?