Welcome Buds and Budettes to another fabulous edition of TTWTWB! We’re back with our first full edition in what seems like an aeon after insomnia, lame pet cats and holidays threw spanners in the works, and I’ll do my best to exude my usual…well whatever I usually exude. As always we’re going to kick off with our theme for the week, again Holby City bringing the goods! It’s a modern classic, ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes.
We have a fair amount to cover given the sporadic and incomplete nature of recent columns, and time spent arguing with Twitter settings renders my brain somewhat unreliable, so I apologise in advance if I miss anything of note that you feel I should have discussed over the last few weeks. Feel free to let me know in the comments and I’ll get to that next week!
Sherlock was a near as dammit perfect example of how to make a show modern, snappy and appealing while remaining true to the source material and in no way dumbing down the presentation of some pretty dark subject matter. Despite the regular doses of gallows humour, at no point did the writing forget that both the central characters and the plot have extremely black undertones, with grizzly murders and Holmes’ at times uncompromising and detached nature emphasised.
Already commissioned for a second series, I really believe Sherlock has the potential to be a long running series, with plenty of source material in Conan Doyle’s books, and could well hold the defining roles of both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s careers. That is by no means a knock on their previous work, Cumberbatch was outstanding in Hawking and Freeman’s will they-won’t they storyline with Lucy Davis was by far my favourite part of The Office, but I see Sherlock having the kind of broad appeal that has been developed by Dr Who since it’s comeback (and with Stephen Moffat’s involvement there are clear parallels. Indeed, The Doctor and Holmes are similarly maverick, oddball characters) and could provide either the zenith for both actors or the launchpad to bigger things.
I’ll not bore you all with an essay on the complexities of Holmes vs Moriarty which became the driving force behind the dramatic cliffhanger ending, so you can rest easy, but I do feel a need to mention what became a highlight of Sherlock for me, the sheer number of nods to the original characters. Watson returning from Afghanistan, Holmes both playing the violin and the veiled nods to a drug habit, referencing the opium usage mentioned in the books were all very nice touches, and while obvious, neither were they forced on the viewer. The regular tongue-in-cheek suggestions that Holmes and Watson are ‘more than just friends’ too were amusing acknowledgement of the fact there are various theories that Holmes and Watson were indeed a homosexual couple in the original texts. I cannot praise everybody involved with this enough, it’s very high on the list of things to look forward to when it returns.
On the other side of the coin however, is the final season of Ugly Betty. I have to admit that I previously dismissed all allegations the quality of this series was dropping and really enjoyed the evolution of the characters into the third season, but upon it’s return, even I, a huge fan of the series and someone who wants it to succeed so badly, have come to the conclusion that this is a series that shouldn’t have had the fourth season commissioned.
I have absolutely no idea how they managed it, but the show is a totally different animal to the one that was left at the end of the third. The surreal humour has been badly produced and feels very tired, the running gags around the strained working relationship between Betty and her ex-boyfriend become irritating very quickly, the formerly well executed switches between out and out comedy and pathos can be felt coming a long, long way off, and the snappy style and verve once held by the shoe are just nowhere to be found. It’s a very sad thing, but after 2 episodes, I already feel as though I no longer want to watch. I may watch another episode or two, just in case this is a blip, but I have a feeling I’m done with Ugly Betty, a show I formerly loved.
As far as my favourite subject, the Soaps, goes…things are much the same. Eastenders continues to plummet and spiral into redundant melodramatic pap, Coronation Street is like an unfunny Carry On film and Emmerdale continues to move along smoothly, breaking soap conventions and cliches and generally producing well written, great acted television.
But anyhow, we have a week to preview, and damn, we have some big stuff to preview!
Our first highlights for the week are of course the big news returns of The X Factor and sister show The Xtra Factor. In recent times a degree of snobbery has developed towards talent shows, particularly those under Simon Cowell’s umbrella, and I really don’t feel it’s warranted. Going back to the days of Opportunity Knocks and New Faces, talent shows have always been popular because they can contain such a wide range of attractions. You’ll get talented balladeers, rockier artists and teeny-boppers to cater for most broad musical tastes, which combines with the pantomime of the audience reaction to the judge’s comments and the total schadenfreude that comes from seeing delusional people wauling tunelessly on the stage. My only complaint about the show is that the disagreement between the judges are clearly stage managed and played up for TV, and it takes away some of the show’s legitimacy. The audition rounds are always my favourite viewing from the show, so I look forward to the next few weeks!
The Xtra Factor has a new host in the shape of Konnie Huq who I feel will be a step up from Holly Willoughby, who was ok, but sometimes lacked the right approach for the ‘comedy’ skits. The quality of Xtra Factor varies wildly depending on the quality of the writing (some of the scripted parts are really bad), but it’s entertaining enough and in the early stages gives more depth on some of the auditionees who don’t get much air time on the main show. Of all the ITV2 spinoffs, this is undoubtedly the best of the bunch.
Our other highlight for the week is the BBC’s latest nature documentary series, Mountain Gorilla. Really the title alone explains what the show is about, so I won’t do much explaining other than to say that the individual accounts they follow look to be very interesting. It’s narrated by Patrick Stewart too, so what’s not to love?!
Although it’s not going to be this…
Just one lowlight this week, but maaaaan, this could cast a shadow over the rest of the year! Jedward: Let Loose is the latest in the cavalcade of terrible reality shows on ITV2. These lads bring out the crochety old man in me, I want to shave their heads and tell them to shut up. Surely their 15 minutes is up soon?!
Well that’s about it for the week from me! As mentioned, anything I’ve missed over the past few weeks, let me know and I’ll include it! New Game Show Garbage tomorrow as well as One Word Or Less on monday. Send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and remember to always stay safe.