Friday, 22 October 2010


Friday, 22 October 2010

I don't review everything I watch on TV regularly, because doing so would result in a mountain of work and a likely backlog. I have to be picky. Also, I'd probably start to resent watching certain TV shows if I knew every hour of entertainment equals 1-2 hours of writing. I never want to find myself in a position where I'm watching TV and treating it as "work", either -- although it's fair to say I never watch TV without my critical hat on these days. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to chip in with brief thoughts on five shows I'm watching every week but don't really blog about. Yes, that's my idea of fun. Deal with it.

An Idiot Abroad (Sky1, Thursdays) This humorous travelogue with Karl Pilkington lures me back every week, although after the opening trips to China and India things hit a rocky patch with the dicey Mexican episode. It just wasn't that funny. Maybe the novelty value is wearing off for Karl as he's jetted around the world, so he's not putting in the effort. Did he visit the Seven Wonders Of The Modern World over the course of a few months? If so, I don't blame him for getting sluggish with the quips. Also, I'm not enjoying the irritating phone calls from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who usually ring to give Karl a task to achieve. It's just not required, although I do think Karl's comedy works when he's bouncing off other people, but he's rather isolated in this show as he traipses around foreign countries nitpicking the local customs and culture.

Better Off Ted (FX, Tuesdays) My initial reviews weren't exactly raves, but this fantastical workplace comedy has definitely charmed me since. FX has been burning through both seasons in weekly double-bills, and while I can sense a drop in quality for season 2, it hasn't been disastrous. Above all, I find all the actors personable and interesting to watch on-screen; particularly Portia de Rossi with her staccato gestures and Cheshire Cat grins, and the adorable perkiness of Andrea Anders (whose comic timing is atomic clock standard). There are episodes where the storylines and jokes don't dovetail that smoothly, but the comic performances never let you down. Oh, and it has the least annoying fourth-wall breaking since Malcolm In The Middle, too.

Community (Viva, Tuesdays) I can't really say much about this series yet, as I've only seen four episodes. So far, the pinball dialogue has been pretty strong and I find Joel McHale, Chevy Chase and Alison Brie appealing screen presences. The show's tone is ZANY, which I'm not against, but sometimes I find myself wishing there was more restraint. It's all a bit manic and knowingly ker-azy sometimes, which can be a turn-off. There was an end-credits sequence that only existed to watch three of the cast dance outrageously. But I hear it improves and, in the second half of season 1, becomes the US equivalent of Spaced, which is very high praise indeed. I hope it lives up to that buzz.

A History Of Horror (BBC4, Mondays) I love documentaries on subjects I'm interested in, so a trek through cinematic horror is a real treat for me. Hosted by Mark Gatiss (The League Of Gentlemen), it helps that you can tell he's genuinely passionate about the subject matter, and this BBC4 series has been an entertaining and fascinating look at the horror genre throughout the 20th century. I especially liked part 2's emphasis on the Hammer Horror period, where Britain took the genre it created in literature and fed it back to the world in lurid Technicolor.

Whites (BBC2, Tuesdays) I really liked episode 1, but didn't continue reviewing this sitcom here. That's because there were other shows demanding my attention, which I was more confident people would respond to. However, to summarize my thoughts now we're four episodes into its run: this is a really good sitcom that deserves wider attention. It's witty and has a reality to it, albeit with comical twists. The characters feel like actual people, so you therefore find yourself becoming invested in them dramatically. Alan Davies is good as Roland White, but it's Darren Boyd I'm really enjoying, as harassed sous chef Bib. The last few episodes have involved climaxes that poke fun at disabilities (a woman with one arm, Parkinson's Disease), which is a little alarming, but I can't say they weren't very funny.

I also have a few Nikita's stuck on my V+ box ready to be watched, but I can't summon the willpower. Oh, and I only made it halfway through that Louis Theroux documentary on Lagos, too. I think the novelty of sending someone like Louis into genuinely dangerous territory has outstayed its welcome. He should get back to his earlier comedic adventures, spending time with oddballs on the edge of society again.