Wednesday, 6 February 2013

This Week's Viewing...

Did I tell you I cancelled Love film?  I've subscribed to that since before it was even called Love film - when it was just Amazon sending things out in orange envelopes. Anyway, very nice woman on the phone, asking why I wanted to cancel. And I found myself saying, 'Because we've got *loads* of stuff already in the house to catch up with watching.'

And that's quite true. Boxsets and stuff everywhere. Series that I'm stuck in the middle of, and films that  in some cases haven't been watched once yet.

TV watching is very important round here. Most often it's vintage stuff - i feel like I'm still catching up with episodes from decades ago. But I like to have a good mix - picking up contemporary shows and hoping to have new favourites.

I take watching tv and films as seriously as reading fiction and I always have. It's all important material to be immersed in, when you want to write... Lots of good telly and film is just as important as lots of good books and lots of walks. (Actually, lots of bad telly and bad books are important too - but that's another discussion!)

Here's this week's viewing so far...

Jeremy picked up the Blu-Ray in Blockbusters' sale, and it's been so many years since I saw this. Funny, how you appreciate different things as time goes by. This time it had none of the ominousness and dread that I associate with early viewings (and even from when i read the marvel comic strip adaptation in 1978!) I realised how sketchy the lead characters really are. We know nothing about them at all, really.

Terri Garr stands out as a character that gets badly served - and she's wonderful in every scene she has. There's a brilliant bit where she's trying to cope with the Dreyfuss's character's escalating madness and she just winds up losing her temper. It's the realest thing in this film that just seems... a bit dopey and sentimental now, really.

We clicked on the Special Edition to see again the extra bits aboard the mother ship that were all the rage at one point. They were even skimpier than i remembered. What a swizz that must have been! Dreyfuss steps into a shopping mall and looks amazed...

A show i haven't watched for years. It's been going on the whole time and I thought of myself as someone who didn't find it funny anymore. Like i feel about Family Guy - or Robin Williams. I can see other people rolling about - but i just don't get it. But Viva are showing recent episodes and i happened to watch and just loved them - especially the one about the undercover cop becoming a tranny hooker. It can still make me gasp with surprise and shock. Which is always a good thing. I had to order a 'best of' compilation at once - though, so far, the best of the first ten years isn't as good as what i'm watching from recent times...

This is my deliciously guilty pleasure of the moment - and the Reality Show that currently has my heart. These are all More4 repeats, I believe - and I hoover up the Sunday marathon with huge enjoyment. Anything that can bring out the subtle variations of snobbery, silliness, sniffiness and sheer bad behaviour of Britons like this just makes me howl. 'Come Dine With Me' had the knack for a while, as did 'Coach Trip' and 'Wife Swap' - but they lose it when they become successful and become too self-conscious, attracting show-offs as guests. But the current repeats of this B&B show are just heaven.

Actually, this is better. Sunday night's C4 reality show - more of a fly-on-the-wall drama, in its second season. The focus is mostly on the staff and they're wonderful characters - though at times their dramas and haplessness feels a little directed and set-up (as it did in this sunday's - with the resignation of events manager, Christian) But the vignettes about the guests are often heart-breaking. This week's son-on-a-pilgrimage to the home of his dead father was quietly touching in a very unshowy way.

This is a beautifully made programme. It's shown opposite ITV's flashy, stupid Mr Selfridge (i stuck with this drama for three episodes - and that was enough. Sorry, Andrew Davies.) The juxtaposition of the two sums up everything I feel about tv at the moment. The glitzy and hollow and middlebrow masquerading as quality drama, as 'masterpiece theatre' - as opposed to something that looks tacky and exploitative on the surface having terrific heart and a wonderful sense of real, vital narrative going on.

MRS BROWN'S BOYS. Ended wonderfully - a couple of cracking last couple of episodes. The gay wedding polemical stuff in the finale was brilliantly timed, sincere - with just a touch of righteous ire (i loved her chucking the priest out on his ear). After a couple of very dodgy Christmas episodes and a shaky start to season 3 - i loved this run of Mrs Brown. (I'm still in two minds about the recently-ended Miranda season 3, which double-billed with it. Brilliant moments mixed with over-indulgent bollocks, i thought.)

DOCTOR WHO - THE HAPPINESS PATROL. I always wait till the DVDs come down in price, and so i've only just bought the ACE ADVENTURES boxset, which came out last year. I only really buy the DrWhos when they're ones I particularly like. And I *love* Dragonfire (still feels christmassy to me!) and the Happiness Patrol. Watching episode One I'm beguiled all over again by the ambition and wit of Doctor Who in the final years of the 80s. The Kandyman's entrance into this story is as shocking as any revelation the show ever had - from the daleks' first appearance onwards. Sheila Hancock is marvellous - and there are some great guest actor turns. McCoy's diction grates, just as it always did, and there's an over-earnestness about the whole thing at times that alternately annoys and charms - just as it always did.

One of the most boring received opinions on the planet is that DrWho went downhill after 1980. Never believe anyone who tells you this. It's like the bores who say Bowie never recorded anything worthwhile after Scary Monsters. People need to be sat down and made to watch some of the 80s Who highlights - and Happiness Patrol is one of them. (I can supply a list of the rest!)

ROSEANNE. I had a little Roseanne Barr marathon last night - after reading a couple of interesting re-evaluations  online in recent days. My family loved this show at the time. I was at college - without tv! - and it's something i remember watching, with pizza, on weekend trips home. Somehow it's slipped down in my estimation over the years - perhaps because of that disastrous stuff near the end - and that awful AbFab crossover episode. But last night I watched four episodes from Season Two - when the show still knew what it was about. Sisters fighting because a man's come between them. Ambulance-chasing lawsuits. And, in an episode I remember very well, Roseanne recalling her ambition to become a writer. It's a very simple episode in a way - about the need for time and space to get the writing done - and the trying to remember what it was you wanted to say, anyway... It's a smashing piece of tv, i think.

So - that's been the viewing this week - so far!

How about you? Are you watching anything I should know about?


  1. "One of the most boring received opinions on the planet is that DrWho went downhill after 1980. Never believe anyone who tells you this. It's like the bores who say Bowie never recorded anything worthwhile after Scary Monsters." - quite right, you tell 'em!

  2. cheers, Stu! something i've meant to articulate for a while, there!