Tom Pheby casts his slouchful eye over last week's television...
It's just great to have Philip Glenister back on terrestrial TV instead of
hunting through the plethora of satellite channels for a glimpse of his
road block physique and chewed toffee looks. He's taking the lead and starring as Prison Officer David Murdoch in the new three-part series of Prey. Joining Glenister is a all-star line up including Rosie Cavaliero, MyAnna Buring, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Ralph Ineson and Sammy Winward.,
There is more good news as Prey creator, Chris Lunt, has returned as writer and has delivered for this series, layering a complex and tense thriller that sees DS Susan Reinhardt (Cavaliero) pick up where she left off from the first series, and facing an uncertain future. She's been overlooked for promotion and understandably feels aggrieved
that she is working under the edict of ultra serious DCI Mike Ward
Meanwhile, Glenister's David Murdoch is a normal, upstanding, everyday kinda guy
whose life is about to be turned upside down when he discovers his
daughter has been kidnapped. Murdoch is on a routine trip to the local
hospital with a feinting prisoner, but it turns out to all be part of an
elaborate escape plan hatched by the convicts brother. He informs
Murdoch that unless he assists in his Sisters escape, he may never see
his daughter again.
This creates the moral conundrum we love as an audience, what would we do? How would we cope? It's not an original concept but the writing is strong and allows us to sympathise with Murdoch and will him on, at the same time you also feel compelled to cheer on
Reinhardt in her pursuit. This provides even greater potential intensity
as she tries to help Murdoch by catching the bad guy, freeing the girl
and in the process provide a satisfactory conclusion to the story. But
be warned, this may not be the case.
The superb Rosie Cavaliero, gives us the best portrayal of a female copper since Helen Mirren appeared as Jane Tenison in Prime suspect. She is a hard nosed Sergeant, with an honest, hard working, no nonsense approach, who methodically gets the job done, yet she knows this case doesn't feel quite right because there are nagging questions as to why Murdoch became involved in it all.
This has all the hallmarks of another classic series and I hope that the other episodes maintain the tension and drama, instead of becoming dull and predictable. Can't wait for the next one .
THE GREAT POTTERY THROW DOWN
The Great Pottery Throw Down came to an end last week, but if you missed the six part series and you're fond of the phrase "like watching paint dry" then you might want to head to the iPlayer and catch up with the BBC's latest artistic effort.
I don't know about throw down, but the search for Britain's top potter (surely, that's Harry?) should have been thrown out when the idea was first presented. We've had baking, sewing, cooking, painting, singing and probably
knitting, but I'm not sure that the potters wheel generated enough
excitement for me.
How times have changed, as the potters wheel was once
used as a pictorial interlude between programmes back in the days when
adverts didn't even exist. That might've been a better option than devoting an entire show to it.
Although, it wasn't all terrible, as just when things looked particularly bleak we were treated to a series of ridiculous school boy double entendres when the judges were confronted by numerous sets of "Lovely jugs, generous rims, nice thick lips, shoulders and necks". Followed by a "leather-hard cylindrical form" and Jim's bottom being hailed as the best the judges had seen!
NOEL GALLAGHER IN CONCERT
Once upon a time Oasis were a group of angry northerners that sought controversy and fame by what ever means possible. With their implosion and demise, caused by the feud between warring brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher, things changed considerably.
Liam has made some ordinary music and assembled a clothes collection full of parkas and roll neck sweaters, whereas the talent and nucleus of the group, Noel, continues to make worthwhile albums and music of merit. He is a gifted musician and songwriter, who by his own admission borrows from past influences and sounds to make new music.
Last week's concert was a relatively civilised affair conducted from a series of stalls on the stage. No prancing, no hopping about or other distracting antics, but then Oasis were a fairly static band at best. Gallagher believes in giving value for money in terms of providing a quality sound, and he featured a few nods to the past, including Wonderwall.
It's a more basic set, bordering on acoustic with some changes to the melodies, this keeps it interesting and at the same time plays safe enough to appease Oasis followers. But really what you get from Noel solo is a more measured performance of outstanding material without having to worry about his brother punching a fan or taking issue with a camera mans moustache.
Noel is now a national treasure (although he might hate that label), he is admired for his music and contribution to the industry. He never needed Oasis, he still doesn't.
DROSS ON THE BOX
There are a few things that you really shouldn't do in life. Steal, fly an airplane in a storm, rub the stomach of a pregnant sea lion and above all, DO NOT appear on a reality TV show as a married couple. In particular avoid appearing on Marriage Boot Camp, a show which takes television to new and inexcusable depths of bad taste just to give a handful of idiots half a chance of clinging on to their so-called celebrity status.
It's the type of uncomfortable, deeply embarrassing horse shit that peppers American TV. It has a detrimental effect on impressionable minds and perpetuates the celebrity culture (famous for nothing). We have Aubrey and Travis, Tami and Reggie, Jordan and Jeff plus Kendra and Hank, all screaming, shouting, crying, lying and vying for airtime, in return for large sums of money.
But that's not the worst part. The female 'celebrities' were encouraged to go to a fake intensive care unit and pretend that they were critically ill or dying all so that their partners could express their feelings of love towards them.
Really. Really really.
And all of this was under the gaze of two supposed 'experts' who gave pointers and cast a critical eye over their performance. It was sick, twisted, tasteless and despicable.
It's Jerry Springer with bells on. A putrid excuse for a show that is deep down the u-bend without having the decency to flush. Half way through I couldn't watch anymore and sought out a DVD instead...
DVD HEAVEN OR HELL
Josh (Rafe Spall) and Nat (Rosie Byrne) are that lovey dovey, inseparable couple who meet, fall madly in love and marry within a seven month period, and all seems good as they look forward to a bright future together.
Well, that was the intention but after a fairly torturous wedding ceremony and reception, especially the speech, delivered by Danny (Stephen Merchant), and then narrowly avoiding Josh's Mum and Dad virtually procreating on the lawn, things lurch from bad to worse.
The surreal world of romance, wedding and honeymoon soon disappears, as I Give It A Year shows the real life and the drudgery of everyday living, and that's when the cracks begin to appear, it's the moment when Josh and Nat realise that neither of them is what the other thought they were. Fate then plays its part by introducing Nat to the smooth talking American businessman Guy (Simon Baker), whilst Josh renews his interest in American do-gooder and former girlfriend Chloe (Anna Faris).
I Give It A Year has some elements of farce about it. There are moments that are genuinely laugh out loud funny, and others where you will feel uncomfortable on behalf of the lead characters. Where it fails, though, is its seemingly hasty resolution in the final third, and you find yourself neither sympathetic, happy or relieved for anyone involved.
I Give It A Year could've been an astonishingly good and profound film but it ended up becoming merely dependable and slightly predictable. Having said that, when it's funny it is memorable funny, and you may well find yourself on a bus or a train sniggering to yourself about a number of scenes.
Special mention to Minnie Driver as Nat's sister Maomi, who can barely contain her contempt for her husband Hugh (Jason Flemyng) and who does enough to steal the majority of the scenes she appears in, even when she doesn't speak.
Verdict: Nearer to Heaven than Hell.
After his (first) stint as Dirty Den in EastEnders, Leslie Grantham left the series a massive TV star. Many actors may have wanted to take a different direction and try to shake off the only character they were really associated with, but Grantham chose to play it safe, moving from East London to South London, swapping Den for Dan and taking up residence in The Paradise Club.
Grantham plays criminal Danny Kane, he's joined by gravel voiced Don Henderson as his brother Francis, who has chosen God rather than a life of guns, sly deals and protection rackets.
Premiering in 1989, The Paradise Club ran for two seasons. In the opening episode Ma Kane shuffles off her criminal mortal coil and leaves the club to Frank, a priest who has fallen foul of the church for his gambling habits and unusual practices. As part of a brewing background story, a rival gang (the Noonans) have robbed a bank, which just happens to be South side of the river. An infuriated Danny interrupts the fleeing villains and persuades them, under duress, to return the cash, which amusingly takes place at gunpoint. This leads to a standoff, and the rival gang looking for retribution at Danny Kane's expense. Meanwhile, Frank is found innocent of robbing the church savings and is invited back into the arms of the church, but realising Danny's life is under threat he joins forces with his brother to keep him from harm and to change his ways.
The scripts are a little light by today's standards and some of the villains are slightly comic book, but what saves this from itself are the performances of Grantham and Henderson and the relationship between the pair.
It's still a great premise for a series, and as we all know ideas in television are in short supply so brothers at the opposite ends of right and wrong could potentially benefit from the ingenuity of an ambitious scriptwriter and production team for a sharp reboot.
Grantham is really just reprising his role of Dirty Den though. His presence is convincing even if his acting is a bit wooden at times. It's still an entertaining watch, if you allow for the passage of time, so for those of you just now discovering The Professionals, The Sweeney or Minder (thanks in large part to ITV4), this is one you'll want to track down.
LOST IN TRANSLATION
The Germans are a methodically minded race, gifted with genuine technical expertise that we benefit from on a daily basis. They gave us culinary delights such as sauerkraut and the bratwurst sausage. As drivers we have the pleasure of traveling in cars such as Volkswagen, Porsche, Mercedes, BMW and Audi, all fabulous German exports. Without them the fridges, shelves and pumps of our local pubs would be missing a huge number of quality beers. However, despite all these considerable contributions to human advancement there is one undeniably sad fact ...they can't say the word Squirrel .
Take a look for yourself...
Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half
English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting
on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film
abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town
of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter