Friday, June 17, 2011

And Everyone Turned Over, Troubled In Their Dreams Again

'They can be very abrasive, can Crunchies, when they break-up!' The latest episode of Ideal included the startling revelation that the shelf-staffing 'time of exile' from pop superstardom for Lee (Andrew Lee Potts) is actually part of a very cunning PR plan which will climax with a Silicon Valet's comeback, a new CD ('a song-cycle in six movements!') and a marriage to 'one of the Sugerbabes.' He's not sure which one yet, as the details are 'still being worked out.' Mistakenly believing Moz (Johnny Vegas) to be an avant garde artist genius when finding Snajeev's baby paintings in his flat, Tilly (Janeane Garofalo) arranges for him have an exhibition. Jess (Elinor Crawley) and Cartoon Head (David Sant) experiment with snorting ketamine and find themselves (ahem) way out of their depth inside a big read handbag. Moz is told that the (no longer mythical, it would seem) Red Mist - having cut someone's head off and stuffed his neck with Crunchies - intend to murder his drug-dealing ex-girlfriend Nikki next. 'Can't your lot stop the Red Mist? Surely there must be a law against murdering people?' Moz asks PC (Tom Goodman Hill). 'Not since cutbacks.' Ah yes, the cutbacks. They're everywhere, the cutbacks. This series begin six episodes instead of eight, for one example. PC finally meets Tilly and is stunned when Moz claims that she's a celibate lesbian. 'She's not, I've got Lez-dar.' It turns out that, actually, plod's correct. In another great episode - all the way from the splitting bin liner in the pre-titles - we get thirty minutes full of classic one-liners. 'In terms of public perception, I was "credible", but not "incredible,"' Lee notes. 'Is "incredible" better than "massive?"' asks Moz. At a meeting of the gangs concerned at the 'rise of the Ginger Menace', Nikki (Nicola Reynolds) asks Triad Tony (Dan Li) what resources they have. 'We have forty five men, a stash of over one hundred automatic weapons, and access to a helicopter.' To which Psycho Paul (Ryan Pope) adds, helpfully, 'I've got ... a screwdriver. A Phillips. They're the worst!' And, he can phone up his mate Darren, 'he loves a good punch-up.' Though, as Jess points out, he has just had one of his elbows amputated. Rainbow (Naomi Bentley) suggests it might be an idea to try talking to the Red Mist instead of stabbing them with screwdrivers. 'Talking's for lesbians,' argues Paul. What I like most of Graham Duff's delicately built house of cards scripts for Ideal is the way in which he can combine breathlessly impressive characterisation and cunning plot movement which - over seven years - has involved a lengthy continuous narrative, and yet still pepper the damn thing with more jokes per-page than most sitcoms manage in an entire series. Little things like the revelation that Jake (Danny Morgan) believes he'll be dead by Friday, add to the show's uncanny combination of menace and hilarity. The Gruniad recently called Ideal 'the funniest sitcom on British TV.' Not that it has much competition, admittedly, but even in an era of dozens of them, it would still be a quite brilliant conceit. Tune in next week for the returns of Keith and Carol, Derrick, Judith and a guest turn by Eric & Ernie's Daniel Rigby.

TV comedy line of the week - by a distance: The great Ed Byrne in Mock the Week during the 'this is the answer what is the question?' round. When told that the answer is 'Around twenty four thousand,' Ed wondered, idly, if the question could possibly be: 'How many times would I have to punch Piers Morgan in the face before it stopped being fun and I just carried on out of a sense of duty?!' Elsewhere, in a programme that has become a notorious bear-bit for male comedians in which the odd token female they have on seldom gets so much as a look-in, Diane Morgan (irritating, North West BBC3 presenter-style accent notwithstanding) managed to be funny three times without anyone patronising her. A considerable achievement, I reckon.

The BBC News website's apparently inaccurate and mud-stirring story about Steven Moffat's workload, which we reported yesterday, has had one interesting side effect. The Gruniad is now reporting this as a news piece - including the full text of Moffat's Twitter denial about there being a scheduling clash between Doctor Who and Sherlock. What's most intriguing here is that three days earlier the Gruniad had covered the speech Danny Cohen made at the Chruch and Media conference in some detail, in which his comments on Doctor Who (and Sherlock) barely warranted a line. Now, apparently because the BBC News site has made such a big deal out of comments which Lizo Mzimba suggested a couple of days ago were 'not to be taken seriously', we've got a case of the media creating and then perpetuating a complete non-story over the course of two days. One might've hoped that a reporter from either BBC News or the Gruniad (or both) could have picked up the phone and called either Danny Cohen or Steven Moffat (or even the BBC press office) for corroboration of some and/or all aspects of this instead of just lazily running quotes taken from Twitter as their main source of information. That is, after all, what journalists are paid to do. Sadly, this is a classic example of the way that much of the media - print and online - operates in the Twenty First Century. If it's been said on Twitter, it must be true, it would appear. A clearly frustrated Moffster subsequently commented - on Twitter! - that he found the initial BBC News report to be 'unbelievable' given that the quotes they used from Danny Cohen were taken 'out of context and not being clear that he was joking.'

The Shadow Line ended on Thursday after seven perfectly extraordinary episodes with - rather disappointingly (although perfectly in-keeping with the themes the drama had dealt in thus far) - most of the sympathetic characters being either betrayed and killed or compromised into betrayal. Gabriel? Dead. Jospeh Bede? Very dead. Maurice? Alive ... but, very skint. Beautifully acted all the way to the end, the complexity of Hugo Blick's plot finally resolved itself in a massive conspiracy about dark secret service shenanigans and drug money being used to prop up, of all things, the police force's pension fund. And, about every five minutes somebody got shot in the head. Through it all, Gatehouse (Stephen Rea's finest performance in years) moved slowly like a trilby-wearing spider gathering his victims to him and then taking his time taking them out of the picture. His scene towards the end with his carefully orchestrated replacements for Ratten and Harris, Jay and Ratallack, as they stand looking at a massive consignment of Russian smack was one of the most chillingly effective any drama has done in years. 'So now it's our turn,' says one of his young apprentices. 'How long's that gonna last?' adds Jay. 'I think you know the answer to that already,' Gatehouse replies. 'And if you don't you should.' Jay (Rafe Spall, on stunning form again) gives one of those trademark sideways glances that usually precede a cat getting drowned and says: 'Twenty years. And then a headshot in the back of a car.' 'Not if you remember the rule,' Gatehouse replies. 'You, you're the threads. But me, I'm the rope.' He also got, by a distance, the best line of the entire series, telling the soon-to-be-deaded Gabriel: 'People don't do bad things just because they want to stroke a white cat.' The Torygraph's Adam Sweeting didn't like it, describing the series as a 'wilfully obtuse noirathon' and suggesting that the final episode 'ran around in increasingly demented circles.' He opened his cynical dismissal of the drama with the line 'I see there are still a few brave souls trying to peddle the "searing televisual masterpiece" line, often in high-profile BBC publications,' an almost-certain dig in the direction of the Torygraph's main broadsheet rival the Gruniad who have been glopping themselves purple over The Shadow Line for the past seven weeks. Though, to be fair, they're not alone - the reviewers in Metro and the Mirra have also been confirmed fans. 'I can't imagine how Gatehouse could return for a sequel, but the TV landscape is going to be a much blander and far less terrifying place without him,' noted Jane Simon in the latter. 'It says a lot that the most heroic person in this whole show should turn out to be a heroin trafficker, and that we’ll be crossing our fingers hoping his one last drug deal goes through ok, but there you go.' Sadly, for The Flower Man, he ended his days alone and silent in the back of a BMW with a bullet in his head. Just one more victim of Blick's dark and myopic view of a world in which, sadly, only the bastards and those who know nothing survive to collect their pension from the post office.

And, in the 'Christ, I thought you were dead' category, nice to see David Essex alive and well and ... well, alive, anyway, on EastEnders.

Denise Welch and Tim Healy have teamed up for a BBC Radio 5Live drama about the late Bobby Robson. Don't Cry For Me Maradona will feature the husband and wife playing the former England football manager Bobby Robson and his wife Elsie in a one-off special. The drama marks the twenty fifth anniversary of the 1986 World Cup quarter-final between England and Argentina, which featured the infamous 'Hand of God' goal by Diego Maradona.  Written by Aelish Michael, the drama will examine how Robson recovered from the heartache of defeat in the Mexico World Cup. It is set in Bobby and Elsie's favourite beauty spot Hilltop, overlooking Langley Park in Country Durham. Welch said: 'It was an honour for Tim and I to be asked to play Sir Bobby and Lady Robson. We were both massive fans of Sir Bobby's professional work and it was really lovely for our family to get to know him and Elise personally. Our son, Louis, met Sir Bobby for the first time three days before he passed away and we hold those memories very close to our hearts. I hope the audience enjoys the play as it is wonderfully written and offers a little insight into the love shared between two special people.'

Free toilet rolls will be provided for revellers at the Glastonbury Festival for the first time in a bid to boost recycling rates. But, sadly, it'll be with recycled paper. That'll wipe the smile of festival goers faces, I'll bet. More than one hundred thousand free recycled bog rolls will be handed out to punters so desperate for a dump they're even prepared to use a lavatory at a festival in an effort to drive up recycling rates from forty nine per cent last year to this year's target of sixty per cent. Glastonbury boss, Michael Eavis said: 'There will be more than enough for everyone and more importantly it will be the right kind of loo roll.' Rough like sandpaper. Eavis has teamed up with a manufacturer who will provide the free rolls. Other plans have also been announced to make the festival more environmentally friendly. People who cycle to the festival will have access to a special camping area and will also be offered discount vouchers at the food stalls. A recycling barn will also be set up for festival goers to drop off cans, bottles and packaging. A team of eighty volunteers will sort and separate it out for recycling.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day features a second batch of Cure classics to go with the first lot from some weeks ago. Starting off when the world - and even Robert Smith - was very, very young.
Next, doing 'The Walk' on Top of the Pops introduced by the late John Peel. (And looking 'pretty darned menacing!')
And, finally, 'the hit'! Remember dear blog reader, a lovecat is for life not just for Christmas on Top of the Pops.

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