Friday, 15 February 2013

What I've Been Watching...



What have I been watching this week..?

'Nashville' started well last week, i thought. Just cheesy enough - with lots of proper potential there characterwise. Enough to keep me for a few weeks, anyway. It hit the glitzy-sleaze button for me in a way the reborn Dallas *didn't* quite. I'm still loving 'The Hotel' on Sunday nights, though that's hurtling towards a final episode - and disaster, it seems. And the second part of 'People Like Us' last night built upon the brilliance of the first.

A lot of what I've watched this week has been vintage. I have been watching and thinking about 80s kids' anthology show, 'Dramarama'. Network publish a first double volume and a set of 'Spooky'-themed episodes - and mostly they're terribly good. There's a haunted house episode by Alan Garner easily the equal of anything else he ever did for TV, and better than most supposedly spooky tv shows.

I've been watching and rewatching Anthony Newley in 'Gurney Slade' - the very glossy black and white ATV series from the early 60s. What a show that was! Sophisticated and crazy - fourth-wall-breaking and absurd. Silly for the sake of it - and resembling nothing so much as arthouse european cinema crossed with every kind of TV genre you can think of. It's a stunning show - and with each viewing it rises in my estimation. It's a sit-com version of The Prisoner - made before we knew what the Prisoner was - or even what a sit-com was. Newley's is a beguiling performance throughout - equal parts Camus to Tony Hancock - a kind of glum, twinkling existential gnome.


 One of my favourite documentaries this week was a BBC 4 Arena from 2008 about Ken Dodd. A pasty-faced, glowering, manically-intent octogenarian - still giving hundreds of live performances every year, on the same circuit of theatres he's played since the 1950s - every show going on beyond midnight - and every show bringing the house down. He is an amazing force and this was a very reverential piece - presenting wonderful archive footage - especially from 1965, when he must have felt he ruled the world. ('They were outside the Palladium shouting 'We want Doddy!' the day that Liverpool won the Cup!') I loved seeing him being interviewed alongside the Beatles and leaving Lennon (!) lost for words.

Also great on BBC 4 this week - the 90 minute essay on 'When Albums Ruled the World'. Like many BBC 4 docs it was a perfumed love letter - to crackling, oily vinyl on turntables and the decade or more when the long-playing concept album became an artform in itself. Placing Dylan firmly at the start of the story and taking us through the Beatles, prog-rock, Glam and into punk - this was a fantastic piece of TV. Maybe too heavy a concentration on the excesses of the prog-rock fellas (if i hear another word from the very spoiled rich boys of post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd this week i shall scream.) i loved hearing about Marvin Gaye proving his point with Motown and breaking out of the limits of the three minute pop song. We needed more on Bowie's adventures with the form, of course. This really should have been a series.



2 comments:

  1. Me and my housemate have been watching Nashville on the US schedule, so we're a good half of the season through, and it's wonderful. The music is fantastic, and it is just the right side of trashy.

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