Monday, 21 January 2013

Great Night Out

I really wanted to like 'Great Night Out' (writes Dan).  Could ITV have another Auf Wiedersehen on their hands?  There was a time when they did ensemble comedy drama well, but while this is a bit better than I expected it's let down by a couple of things.

(We're not going to look at the That Would Never Happen moments - it would take too long)

First, anything that plagurises (pays homage to?) Golden Gordon in the *first line of the show* needs to be given a yellow card.

The lines

- Five nil?  five bloody nil!
- We were lucky to get nil

were really funny in 1979 when Michael Palin wrote & said them, but this time they weren't really.  Since they  put them in as the first lines you'd think they'd have tried to make them work better.

Second, one of Dan's golden rules of drama is that shows should never introduce gangsters, unless they're gangster shows.  Was there really no other way of working out a plot for episode 2 apart from having Glyn work for 'the local gangster'?  Oh please.  See also Brookside, Shameless and lots of others, but at least they waited until after the second episode to bring local mobsters in.

I will probably keep watching, because some of the characters & performances are good (especially Hodge & Kath), but blimey guys, you could have made a much better show with this cast.  & when is Isy Suttie going to get anything to do?

Ali didn't want to like this, so she didn't watch it.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


Dennis Kelly writes plays.  We saw 'Orphans' so we were looking forward to this.  Then again, we saw 'The Gods Weep' too.  Something about a comic - sorry, graphic novel - is bound to divide us, so here is one of us hoping TWNH: that there will never be such a violent, nihilist, cartoonish world as this one.

Both the stage and the graphic novel influences are apparent here.  Scenes skitter quickly between characters, who flit across the screen as ephemerally as the virtual messages they send to each other, or rather to pseudonyms and avatars of each other.  There's edgy music.  In fact, anyone who likes to think of themselves as edgy will probably like this.  Two mad-eyed loons murder people in the hunt for a manuscript and Jessica Hyde.  There's a man who hates his job, a feral child and everyone is foul-mouthed.  So far, not much of it makes any sense, but is it compelling enough to keep watching?  There's an air of ridiculousness about it all - a bit like a comic, dare I say it.

Saturday, 12 January 2013


This continues to be superb, gripping drama, four episodes into series two.  How often do we manage that?  Realism here isn't serial slaughter but political negotiations over war in Afghanistan, representatives in the European Parliament, early retirement and Somali pirates.  Seriously.  The script is sharp, the performances nuanced, the stories unpredictable and with myriad fallouts.  Worth ten hours of squinting to see all the subtitles.  Seriously.  Have I said that before?  Nyborg for Staatsminister!

Spies of Warsaw

It never ceases to amaze us how much great literature is turned into mediocre television, and vice versa.  Alan Furst's novels are a good read, but some things rarely change: the setting is usually WWII, the hero a jaded but moral Frenchman who is involved in dangerous espionage and abandons his womanising for a true love....  David Tennant doesn't spring to mind, not least because he looks too young to be Jean-Francois Mercier, and because the image of him as a springy Dr Who won't leave us alone.  Nor do Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais spring to mind as the writers to adapt this for the screen, given their biggest successes have been in comedies like Porridge, Lovejoy and Auf Wiedersehen Pet.  The music, too, veers oddly between classic war-spy-story menacing piano to suspiciously 50s sounding freeform jazz.

But somehow it works.  It looks good, it sounds good, it feels scary and sad, as Europe on the brink of an abyss must have done (hmmm, not so far removed from 2013 then).  Familiar faces give reliable performances (Anton Lesser is a shoe-in for a drama imagining Hitler as an elderly man), Janet Montgomery is a sweet-faced heroine and David Tennant is the actor from 'Hamlet' and not the one from 'True Love'.  Worth a watch.  Concluding part on 16th Jan.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The 2012 TWNH Awards

These awards look back at the best (& worst) of TV drama from 2012, specifically focussing on the dreaded That Would Never Happen (TWNH) moments.  See last year's awards here.

Best in show (actor) - Ben Cumberbatch for Parade's End

Best in show (actress) - Karla Crome for Murder

Worst in show (actor) - David Tennant for True Love (sorry David!) closely followed by Andrew Scott for his OTT Moriarty in Sherlock AND his muttering cop in Blackout, which very nearly made it in the 'Biggest TWNH' category too.

Worst in show (actress) - Melissa George for Hunted

It was good until... - Inside Men for throwing all our good will away with a terrible last 15 minutes

Biggest TWNH - A toss up between the whole of the second series of Homeland and The Bletchley Circle

Best show - Line of Duty, though Murder, The Hollow Crown, some episodes of Accused and Prisoners' Wives were good too

Drama most outstaying its welcome - Downton Abbey  If it's true that there's to be a re-boot/alternative/prequel, it says it all about lowest-common-demoninator viewing.