Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Wouldn't Love A Hardcore Lesbian Following?

The return, for one final episode, of Cameron to House was handled in the minimalist, yet elegantly structured Lockdown this week. A story of regret and fear of failure which juxtaposed some unlikely character pairings (Thirteen and Wilson, and, brilliantly, Taub and Foreman getting stoned in the basement) caught in a momentary period of forced inertia. It then ripped through House's defences by exposing him to someone whose cynicism matched his own as he started death in the face with a hollow laugh. The latter, a quite wonderful performance by Good Night and Good Luck's David Strathairn, was probably the episode's highlight. In the end, the conclusion to the Cameron/Chase storyline was something of an anti-climax, albeit, beautifully played by Jesse Spencer and Jennifer Morrison. And achieving, I guess, a sort of closure. A good episode, then and, on the strength of this, they need to be thinking about hiring young first time English director Hugh Laurie a few more times before this show is done.

Elsewhere, having teetered on the edge of viewer oblivion until just a few weeks ago, 24 is busy - even with its end firmly in sight - reformatting itself, mid series. And doing it very nicely. Dragging in an old favourite for the ride (the awesome Gregory Itzin as everybody's favourite disgraced former president), taking the story off in a completely new direction and cheerfully killing long-established regular characters at a rate of about one per episode. Gosh, it really isn't healthy to be around the Jack Bauer, is it? And it's getting worse the older he gets. It was poor old Renee this week. If you get Chloe killed, Jack, some harsh words will have to be spoken. I must admit, there's something comfortingly Stalinist about the mind-set of this show. I love living in a world in which 24 remains just about the only American TV show where the Russians remain a bunch of double-crossing, dirty-dealing bastards from the Cold war era with an interest in wrecking international peace accords. Because they can! Is it still 1975? I thought we'd moved on from all that.

And, so to Lost. Everyone Loves Hugo's main achievement, I think, was in giving the majority of the audience the fixed idea that, given a choice, the world they'd most want to be in is the alternate one; the one where Dessie and Penny and Hurley and Libby are together, where Ben's relatively nice, Jack's an arsehole (no, hang on, that's both worlds isn't it?), Sawyer's a law man and Sayid hasn't been taken over completely by the darkness. The episode moved through several phases, some more effective than others, with the main focus shifting from character to character (Richard's moment of angry assertion, Desmond's quiet acceptance of his destiny, Not-Locke's little smirk when he sees Jack). There was a lot to take in, a lot to focus on, one answer to a long-running question (the origin of 'the whispers') but a couple of entirely new queries to be addressed, hopefully, before too much longer. Because we haven't got too much longer. The trailer for next week's episode - The Last Recruit - suggests at least one crisis of conscience and Claire doing some more of her 'evil mad-bitch staring at people'. Which is always good for a laugh. Five more weeks of this to go, kids. Make the most of it because, when it's gone, I doubt you're ever going to find another one quite like it.

Coronation Street's Tracy Barlow is to be brutally beaten by fellow prisoners in a forthcoming storyline, according to a report. The character, played by actress Kate Ford, is left fighting for her life when inmates turn on her for framing innocent Gail McIntyre (Helen Worth) for murder, the Sun claims. As revealed earlier this year, Tracy ends up sharing a cell with Gail after being enlisted by the authorities to extract a confession from her former neighbour in return for early release. She then concocts a false story to ensure that police have a case against Gail. However, it is thought that the other prisoners soon discover that Tracy has been turning Copper's Nark and corner her in the showers, delivering a savage punishment beating until she is left bleeding and unconscious. A Weatherfield source told the newspaper: 'Tracy is horrified when she realises the girls have rumbled her twisted plan. She's brazen and never had any trouble in jail before, but this really shakes her. There is no way of escaping the angry mob and she takes the beating of a lifetime. It's touch-and-go whether she survives.' The plot is expected to have significant consequences for life back on the Street as Tracy's mother Deirdre (Anne Kirkbride) is left devastated by the attack.

Meanwhile, the cast of Coronation Street were reportedly left 'shocked' and 'alarmed' after reading a false rumour that Alex Reid was to join Weatherfield, according to another tabloid report. An Internet article which suggested that Katie Price's husband would arrive on the soap was recently pinned to a notice board at the ITV serial's studios, the Sun claims. It went on to suggest that the show's older regulars were horrified by the prospect and argued that recruiting Reid would 'devalue the soap's tradition.' However, the actors were soon assured that the story had merely been pinned up as a prank by a right joker. A source said: 'They all went potty, but everyone saw the funny side in the end.'

The cast and crew of the daytime soap Doctors fear that the show could become a casualty of the BBC Trust's network-wide drama review, according to a press report. Last week, it was revealed that the BBC's flagship serials - including EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City - are to receive a value-for-money assessment as part of the Trust's published work plan for 2010 and 2011. According to the Mirror, the news has left the Doctors team 'feeling pessimistic' over the programme's future as the Trust could decide to cut back on the number of BBC medical dramas. The newspaper quotes a show executive as saying: 'We're preparing to find ourselves on the chopping block. Three long-running shows with a similar audience, themes and storylines are up for review and Doctors is probably the weakest link in terms of ratings.' No probably about it, mate, it just is. However, Doctors last month celebrated its tenth anniversary and continues to be a strong performer for BBC1's daytime schedule, regularly winning its time slot and attracting consistent audience numbers and largely positive feedback in the way of AI scores. Responding to the report, a Doctors spokesperson told the Digital Spy website: 'We welcome the forthcoming review into the BBC's continuing drama. It's an opportunity to highlight creative programming that attracts a large and dedicated audience on a regular basis. EastEnders, Holby, Casualty and Doctors tackle a variety of social issues and have won many awards. Not only are they key programmes in the BBC1 schedule, but they also provide a training ground for developing and nurturing diverse new talent on and off screen.' Another source was quoted later by the website as saying 'It's all speculation at the minute. The Trust's review isn't about axing shows, it's about ensuring they're value for money. Doctors airs two hundred and thirty four episodes a year and we're currently filming nine episodes at any one time, so we're confident that the Trust's review will highlight that.'

The BBC has confirmed yesterday's speculation that Survivors has been cancelled after two series. The SF series, a reimagining of Terry Nation's 1970s cult show about a group of people who survive a deadly 'flu-like pandemic, starred Julie Graham and Max Beesley. 'The BBC is committed to making a broad range of varied and ambitious drama, but in order to achieve this we do have to move on from some pieces in order to allow new work to come through - after two series, Survivors will not be returning,' a spokeswoman said. In other words 'we liked it and so did a small, but committed audience. But no bugger else was watching it so I'm afraid it's outta here.' Can't really argue with that.

From one cancelled BBC Telefantasy show to another that's very much alive. Lenora Crichlow has attributed the crossover appeal of Being Human to its mix of comedy, drama and the supernatural. The actress, who plays ghost Annie Sawyer in the BBC3 series, which recently concluded its third series told Metro of the show: 'There's a comedy aspect and a drama aspect so you don't need to be a hard-core sci-fi fan to like it. It's a mixture of genres - it's funny but dark and a bit unique.' When asked why there are so many vampire-themed shows around, she replied: 'It's great visually and good for plots, they can make up the rules as they go along, which is exciting for writers. Also, vampires are quite sexy, which is always good.' Crichlow also claimed that her role in Channel 4's brilliant Sugar Rush had given her a 'very hardcore' lesbian following. 'I've always had huge support from the gay community,' she added.

Another British Telefantasy icon, Billie Piper has revealed that she is planning to look for work in America. The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl and former Doctor Who actress explained that she was persuaded to audition for roles across the Atlantic after she was offered some good scripts. 'I'm going to sniff out there and see if I can get any scraps of work,' she told Glamour magazine. 'I wasn't going to go up for pilot season because the commitment is seven years and having to move my whole family around just seemed like more hassle than its worth. But they secretly sent me some scripts and they are really good.'

Ant and Dec have claimed that the acts on Britain's Got Talent still shock them. Aye, lads, me too.

And finally, Alexandra Burke made an unannounced whistle-stop tour of Emmerdale yesterday as she continued her current promotional circuit around the UK. Blimey, she gets herself around, doesn't she? Haiti, Beckindale ...