Tom Pheby watches too much TV...
TOO MUCH TV
Too Much TV is the BBC's attempt to critique the previous days televisual delights, as well as promoting the up coming programmes for that evening. Its a bit like reminiscing about yesterday's wonderful supper, whilst preparing this mornings burnt breakfast.
The truth is that this format has been done to death already and to a much higher standard by the untouchable Charlie Brooker and affable Harry Hill. Brooker, especially, has the distinct advantage of writing his own savagely sharp material, and as a result everything else that follows seems a bit tragic, especially when it's held together by a gaggle of hosts reading lines off the autocue.
Too Much TV simply tries too hard and is about as substantial as a sandal full of rainwater. It's all done from a studio that resembles the left over bits from The One Show set, and the whole thing feels awkward and amateurish, plus the lack of chemistry between the hosts couldn't be anymore obvious.
This particular episode was fronted by presenters Sarah Cox and perpetual TV panelist Rufus Hound. Hound, who looks like a rejected musketeer with a moustache molded from wet ginger nut biscuits, is the worst offender. He pauses and faffs his way through the show, trying to rescue his unpolished presenting with the odd amusing line which only the crew seem to appreciate. Cox could have actually done this on her own, she already has a nostalgic music review slot, available on the BBC's infamous red button, where she comes across as accomplished and knowledgeable, but in joining forces with Hound she appeared to be totally out of her comfort zone.
One of the treats on offer in this episode was a reporter hitting the streets to find out what the nation's favourite glove puppet was - riveting stuff! The reporter tried to summon up sufficient enthusiasm for the project, but was hampered by appearing like a cinema usher selling choc ices, complete with a little tray that included pictures of the likes of Orville, Basil Brush and Roland Rat. What year is this? It was like scrapping the bottom of Chris Evans waste paper basket, searching for irreverent ideas that not even the Ginger Wizard would consider fit for TV. More ironically was that the winner (Basil Brush) was included on the 'Best of the Best' board, which already featured the nation's other favourite glove puppets Ant and Dec (who are one of my guilty pleasures - ssshhh).
Out of curiosity I tuned into another few episodes which featured other presenters, including Aled Jones (remember him? "I'm walking in the air" when technically he was just floating) and ex-pop fluffball Emma Bunton. Thankfully she's no longer referred to as Baby Spice. I suppose there's a point when you simply have to stop being referred to as 'baby', which for everyone else is around a year old and not at the stage where you've had kids of your own, even though you insist on squeezing yourself into short skirts and sporting pigtails.
Jones and Bunton started by plugging Happy Valley, the hit cop show featuring Sarah Lancashire. Both commented how good it was but Aled, whom I'm beginning to suspect isn't even Welsh, went one step further when he stated that "everyone was watching it!". As it turned out it had attracted just a shade over 6 million viewers, so Jones had fabricated yet another fact to no doubt distract us from his disturbing relationship with a partner made from frozen particles of water, the weirdo!
Probably the best pairing was Bunton and Cox, who seemed infinitely less naff than the other naff presenters on offer but aren't talented enough to disguise the fact that the show is quite awful. The only thing I could think of that could possibly be worse is the image of a naked Leslie Joseph in the arms David Cameron, but I'd even consider that as an alternative to this tripe.
THIRTEEN GETS BETTER AND BETTER
We are already on episode three and this series continues to develop at a pace. Instead of Ivy Moxan dominating the entire piece, the surrounding characters are now growing in stature and becoming as intriguing as the story itself. Yet for me the Two Detectives DS Lisa Merchant (Valene Kane) and DI Elliot Carne (Richard Rankin) are fast sharing the limelight with Jodie Comer as Ivy.
Merchant is ambitious and undeniably ruthless, whereas Carne is far too compassionate for his own good and has a tendency to become too involved with the victim. There is growing tension and friction between them as they adopt differing stand points, all of which is confused further by their personal relationship. In terms of story, the script still has a number of surprises left in store and you genuinely don't see them all coming.
If the BBC makes another series as good as this I will be gobsmacked as these types of shows are incredibly rare.
Thirteen is must watch television.
Dinner Date, or as I prefer to call it 'Love On A Full Stomach', attempts to help confirmed singletons find cupids arrow through their love of good food. This week blonde personal trainer Chloe (25) trawled through five menus to find the man of her dreams over a plate of something partially cooked and reasonably edible. She declares herself to be a big believer in 'a spark', but then rather let the side down by following up with her preferences for booze, nibbly starters, booze, sweet dishes and err.....booze.
After a fashion Chloe chose dashing Dr Nick, who served up something resembling a bowl full of dog food. All went well, especially the booze intake, because Chloe could hardly say her own name as she stumbled towards a waiting cab.
Next was Hairy Henry, a man who seemed to have hair to spare. He could have been an apprentice Bee Gee, with eyebrows like a pair of siamese cats sat by an open fire. Henry, the cockney charmer, had already told the camera how lucky Chloe was, but I suspected the wannabe actor was going to tell her himself at some point.
Later.... she was em... a bit drunk.
Last up was Domino Dom, a man so ordinary that his personality went to court for a divorce. Poor Dom (why shorten your name to the degree where you sound like the noise a monkey makes by beating a spoon on an empty suitcase?) had a surprisingly posh voice, and tried to get interesting by revealing he went to New Zealand for two weeks but didn't like it. Furthermore he revealed he was a fork lift driver (really?) and that he was occasionally a children's nanny (really really??).
Food eaten, goodbyes said... and... shes drunk again!
Maybe this why Chloe has been single for a while? Anyway she chose the dishy Doctor Nick, which was hardly the shock of the century. The biggest shock is that I made it to the end of this completely vacuous show. Sadly it's the sort of stuff that dominates the early evening schedules nowadays, harmless fun for the masses that allows us a regular smug moment when we realise there are people out there who could burn a salad.
Alfred Molina is one of those actors that goes to the awards but never gets one. He's mentioned in the reviews but never grabs the headlines, he's a leading actor but never the leading man, which for such a talent must irk and disappoint in equal measure. He is never really short of work, the majority of his craft has been on TV or more substantial stage roles, however he has appeared in films and although he gave a good account of himself a big career in movies seemed to elude him. So, it's quite a delight to rediscover a small BBC gem called Hancock, by William Humble, which plots the rise and fall of British comedian Tony Hancock.
Molina, gets the rare chance to deliver the performance he is capable of. Solid, flexible, stoic, comic and at times desperately sad, he shows a complex man living on past reputations and dependent on drink to get him through the day. Tony Hancock was weak, tormented and paranoid about his own talents, a man who constantly needed reassurances, all reflected supremely by Molina in this outstanding Screen One piece. He does have good support in the form of Frances Barber as Freddie Hancock, who was quite literally a one woman support stream for her insufferable husband. How she suffered for love, having originally been his agent, mistress and finally spouse. She was used to his erratic behaviour, drinking and changeable moods. Barber brings sophistication, an assured calm and abundance of charm to a demanding role.
Back in the 60's Tony Hancock was a huge star with a big future ahead of him. How tragic then, like a number of gifted comedians, that he wasted what talent he had by seeking comfort from a vodka bottle. Apparently he was so bad in the latter part of his career that he had to read his lines from cue cards, or idiot boards as they are sometimes referred to.
Tony Hancock was not my kind of comic but the man himself was fascinating, a desperately flawed entertainer seeking to achieve more than he was capable of. The irony is that the actor playing him here is capable of more than he is currently being allowed to show, which adds a little more intrigue to the whole project in general.
You clearly have to be one of three things to appear on the latest BBC quiz show, Only Connect.
You either have to be fairly intellectual (David Baddiel, Hugh Dennis), strangely anonymous (Lynn Truss? Phillipa Gregory?), or you just have to be curiously unattractive (Julian Lloyd Webber, Dr John Cooper Clarke). Only Connect may be the first and only quiz show where it appears that it's positively a plus to resemble a crack ravaged chimpanzee.
Hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell, who appears like a rather well stacked bakery shelf brimming with plump soft buns, Only Connect is painfully dull. Teams can score a maximum of 4 points if they spot the connection but the points value decreases with each reveal nah nah nah..... I'm in a tedium trance for which I pay a standing order to the BBC by way of my licence fee. I feel dirty! They've virtually defecated in my imaginary trilby hat and forced me to wear it.
We're supposed to forgive this as it was all for Sports Relief, which is commendable but these charity do-dahs could be a little more interesting if they want us to dip a digit into our pockets and prize a small fortune from the fluffy recesses of our trousers for good causes.
I may sound incredibly churlish when I say that I've never seen a televised charity event that I thought provided value for money, but I would, however, part with a decent amount of cash to not be bored in the sanctuary of my own lounge whilst having to pretend to enjoy it!
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