Once again, Matt creates the storylines that shouldn’t work and instead of letting Tommy Dreamer leave the WWE, sets him on his path to a WWE Championship shot at the Royal Rumble. How will it all turn out? Watch to find out!
We’ll kick off this week with a sensational mashup performance from Dizzee Rascal from Jools Annual Hootenanny.
Welcome Ladies and Gents to the first TTWTWB of the year, I am as always, your host with not quite the most but almost (I’ll keep working on that, I promise) and seeing as it’s been a couple of weeks since a standard edition we best get straight to business!
This week’s soap debacle involves a Coronation Street character and the end of an actor’s career! Cast your mind back to one Mr Martin Platt.
Martin was a Street mainstay after marrying Gail Platt, taking on step-children Nick and Sarah-Louise (more on whom in a bit) and producing their own little Plattspawn, David. However, this being soap opera, married life didn’t last (although this one had more legs than most are allowed to in current day storylines) and Gail ended up with serial killer Richard Hillman in one of the most famous, and possibly worst soap storylines of all time. Martin eventually controversially ended up with 16 year old neighbour Katy Harris, before they were split up by her irate parents. Katy murdered her Father with a wrench (reads like an episode of themed Cluedo doesn’t it!?) and subsequently died in prison. Martin eventually left with new partner Robyn, never to be seen (although he still gets namedropped by son David who went to stay with him in storyline recently) again. In itself, that is a terribly melodramatic run of events over the 20+ years he featured, but nothing quite as bad as what the writers had planned for him, which led to his eventual departure.
You see, the writers were, for some strange reason, enamoured with the idea of Martin being with a girl of 16. However, horrifically the original plan did not involve Katy at all. Rather, the original plan was for Martin to start a relationship with…
his former Step-Daughter Sarah-Louise who was 15 at the time (What the hell is it with Soap writers and semi-incestual relationships!?). Sarah who, lest we forget, already had a baby of her own by that stage, presumably would have followed the path Katy took as far as getting pregnant by Martin, and maybe even would have been the one to have taken a wrench to somebody (Gail maybe?) after being convinced to have an abortion under false pretenses. This of course would have been only a short time after Richard Hillman’s reign of terror and would have left Coronation Street resembling an episode of Midsomer Murders.
So what put the kibosh on that and forced a hefty rewriting? Well at least one person inside Granada Studios had some sense, and actor Sean Wilson who portrayed Martin flatly refused to participate in any storyline where he would be linked to an underage girl. After the Katy storyline was written instead and then finished, the writers once again approached him and told him their plans to link him with an underage girl yet again. Once again Sean refused, and as a thank you for 20 years of service to Coronation Street, the character of Martin Platt was axed late in 2005.
I really have to give credit to Sean Wilson here for standing up for himself so as to not demonise himself in public or draw unwanted attention to his family, after all, soap actors still get verbally abused in the street for the actions of their characters, and I can’t imagine the reception would be good for someone playing a role like that. Wilson himself also deserves props for his post acting success. After leaving the business in 2008, disillusioned with the lack of good offers coming this way, he started his own Cheese company, Saddleworth and won three awards in only his first year in business, which is a very impressive effort.
But what of the rejected storyline in Coronation Street? Well with a slight rehash it became the storyline given to Debra Stephenson as Frankie Baldwin and her relationship with her Step-Son. I suppose you can’t fault their commitment or persistance!
We’ll have more horrors for you next week, but for now we have more recent things to be discussing.
We have two big departures to focus on from the last couple of weeks. We’ll first deal with the one that everybody knew was coming and was looking forward to with deep anticipation. David Tennant’s last appearance in Dr Who was very well executed, with his emotional last visits around his companions of the last few years tying up loose ends nicely. Particularly moving was his interaction with the pre-Doctor Rose and of course Bernard Cribbins all too short run as the Dr’s assistant in which he delivered another show stealing performance. However as willing as I am to give Matt Smith a chance to impress as the Doctor, he didn’t impress me in his cameo in the same way David Tennant grabbed me in his first appearance.
The other big departure news came only yesterday, as Jonathan Ross announced he was leaving the BBC after 13 years. With his Wife’s link to Channel 4 and there upcoming scheduling void after Big Brother finishes, his eventual destination seems obvious. However the best news to come out of this was the announcement of who would be replacing Ross on the Film series. If you heard sounds of raucous celebrations yesterday, that would have been me and Eoin celebrating that Mark Kermode would be the new presenter, which is a tremendous choice, and should have been made years ago before Ross became a parody of himself.
So that covers the last two weeks, what about the week ahead? Well if it’s highlights and lowlights you want, you’ve come to the right place! It’s a real bonanza for new shows this week as the holiday TV lull is filled. We have a few highlights, a few ‘not sure yets’ and of course…LOTS of lowlights!
All four of our highlights this week come from across the pond in the US. Heroes comes back to the BBC for it’s fourth series. Despite the show having lost it’s luster for several fans it remains a ratings winner. I likely won’t give it much of a look, but it’ll be water cooler fodder for a lot of people. Causing real excitment here at TTWTWB however is the return of CSI and CSI:NY. With the original Las Vegas edition in it’s first full series without William Petersen’s Gil Grissom, look for some breakout performances from the very, very able cast that always produces the goods. The New York edition ended it’s previous series on a massive cliffhanger after the team were gunned down in a bar, and personally I cannot wait to see what happens in the continuation of the storyline on Saturday night. Both these parts of the CSI franchise are real ‘can’t miss’ shows. Our final highlight of the week is American Idol which starts it’s audition rounds giving us both the wonderful and the tragically hilarious. Ruben will be covering this at some length for MultiMediaMouth so keep your eye out for that, but also do set aside time to watch it, because overall the quality far outweighs that of The X Factor in the UK.
Very occasionally in this column I get split in two, and just can’t decide whether a show is great or terrible, and this week we have not one, not two but three such shows. The first of these is Dancing on Ice, ITV’s answer to Strictly…on ice. It’s a show that REALLY depends heavily on the celebrity competitors and their attitudes. If they obnoxiously talk back to the judges and play up the the baying seals in the audience, then it will most definately be a lowlight. Secondly we have Lark Rise to Candleford. This is a show that died a slow, painful repetitive death in it’s second series after a great first series. If it can recapture the charm and humour of the first series then it is most definately worth watching. If I see the character of Robert Timmons get needlessly outraged about something, only to be talked down by an impassioned speech from his wife, then we’ll know the series two formula has kicked in, and it’s not worth watching avidly, but by all means dip in and out, as there still is entertainment if you can cut through the slush. Our final purgatorial entry this week is Paul Merton in Europe. Rather like Lark Rise, this had a very good first outing, and then a second series that was so obviously just going for cheap laughs and shock attractions that it lost the enthusiasm the first series exuded. It remains to be seen whether this series will just go for the cheap laughs or for properly interesting programming, and that will determine whether this show is worth watching.
So then, I promised lowlights and lowlights we shall have! Eight things to avoid over the next seven days…
We start off with the very worst in benign, nothing programming as Wild at Heart inexplicably returns. As Harry Hill once put it…why?!
Being Human very nearly made it into the purgatorial section, but in the end I decided this show wastes too much potential to be considered anything other than a flop.
Terrible game shows continue to be en vogue as Wogan’s Perfect Recall returns. Again, just…why?! This is especially odd as Channel 4 has the game show market cornered with Deal or No Deal.
4 also has another ugly returnee…Come Dine with Me is back for ANOTHER series. That has to be 5 in the last 6 months, and it has never once been anything more than irritating.
On the subject of irritation, Delia through the Decades gives an uneeded and much less wanted summary of Delia Smith’s televised culinary career. Very, very dull and patronising programming.
As much earlier as I sang the praises of the CSI franchise, not all editions of US franchises are worthy of the name. I speak, of course, of Law and Order: UK which takes the Law and Order format and mangles it in the way only ITV can manage. ITV aren’t the only ones guilty of wrecking something either, as the BBC brings us a second series of the remade Survivors, a series devoid of drama, tension or any sort of appeal.
The final lowlight for the week however comes in the form of the absolutely terrible looking Take Me Out. Remember the early-mid 90s horror Man O Man? It’s like that, only sleazier. Truly awful television. I have only one thing left to say…PLAY THEM OFF KEYBOARD CAT (featuring Hall and Oates)…
I’ll leave you in the capable paws of the Keyboarding Kitty! We’ll be back with more of the good, bad and ugly in the world of television next week. In the meantime check out the rest of our great content, send any feedback to email@example.com or in the comments section below and remember to always stay safe.
Welcome Ladies and Gents to the TV Week That Will Be Year End Review or TTYTW! Our theme for this special column today was featured on last night’s Jools Holland Hootenanny. Gabriela y Rodrigo are just incredible;
I could list off so very many highlights and probably so many more lowlights from the TV schedules in 2009, but rather than rambling on (yes, changing the habits of a lifetime!) I’m going to do the top 5 from each category. If nothing else, it’ll show just how varied the year was!
It may have only had one episode in 2009, the Christmas special, but Outnumbered reminded us just why it’s so highly regarded as a comedy and why it will be so sorely missed after it’s final series airs in 2010. Often as kids age in family based sitcoms, the veneer wears off, but the semi improvised nature of Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin’s masterpiece means the younger actors dialogue never feels forced and the situations always retain a grounding in reality, no matter how big the laughs are to be had. The development of the Grandfather’s character (now placed in a home he jokingly refers to as ‘Colditz’, much to his daughter’s chagrin) and introduction of his Scottish friend was heartwarming, and makes it very clear the third series will be fresh and free from any repetitiveness.
Britain’s Got Talent had a marquee year with the breakout of Diversity (who saved the show somewhat by being, y’know, good on the Royal Variety after the George Sampson ‘rap’ debacle), the shocking popularity of the wildly entertaining Stavros Flatley and of course, Susan Boyle herself who with one song was catapulted to superstardom. Next year’s auditionees have a lot to live up to.
Number 3 is the funniest show on TV for what? 5 years running now?
On paper, Harry Hill’s TV Burp shouldn’t work, but it is OUTSTANDING every week. That clip says it all.
Wuthering Heights was that rarest of things, a high quality drama on ITV. Tom Hardy’s Heathcliff was magnificent in his brooding insanity and Coky Giedroyc directed a dark, stormy masterpiece that while outstanding only stood to show the dearth in quality on the channel. They haven’t followed it up with one show of decent quality, but they do have at least this jewel in their crown. I was set to name this as the best TV show of the year, until a few weeks ago when it was surpassed by our number 1.
I waxed lyrical about Merlin last week and after much deliberation, decided it had to be ranked as my top show of the year. Superb drama, well used CGI, a great sense of humour and, in this past year, several breakout performances from the young cast. Tremendous.
So then our worst 5 shows of the year…your time is up!
Demons was ITV’s latest attempt to have a supernatural show to take on Dr Who. And it failed. MISERABLY! Melodramatic, nonsensical plots and Mr Glenister’s very worst attempts at a nondescript accent that noone could decipher. And people still wonder why ITV gets panned?
I’ll leave summing this up to Harry Hill…
Horne and Corden was painfully unfunny (aside from the ‘Ghost’ parody, which should have bode well for the show). The duo’s star was burning very brightly before this show, and while they retain great popularity, this will have dented their chances of getting commisions in the future.
Big Top feels as though the producers took every bad sitcom cliche and RAMMED it together with Amanda Holden and a bunch of clown makeup. This is a truly abysmal offering, on a par with last years horror show Bonekickers.
Live from Studio Five can stake a solid claim at being the worst show ever conceived. Take one competent presenter (Melinda Messenger), combine with a painfully bland Apprentice contestant (the one who did the horse impression on the phone in the Harry Hill clip earlier in the column) and an ex-footballer not best known for his speaking skills, let them prattle on endlessly about subjects way too serious to be discussed in the manner they are. For example;
Kate Walsh (on Hitler) “They should stop giving him publicity”
Ian Wright (on Anorexia) “They just need to eat more”
Melinda Messenger (discussing any mundane subject) “…I say this as a Mother”
Practically every attempt channels have made to take on the Richard and Judy (who’s Watch show finishing with only 8,000 viewers would be a candidate) or Paul O’Grady show format have fallen miserably flat, but none quite do it with the inane verve and bizarre ineptitude of LfSF. If you fancy dying of liver failure, try the Digital Spy drinking game!
So there you have 2009 in a nutshell, but what of next year? What shows catch my eye!?
The final series of Outnumbered we have a long wait for, Winter 2010 it’s scheduled for with filming currently underway, but as I mentioned earlier will be well worth waiting for as the recent holiday special just whets the appetite. Besides that it’s largely the usual suspects that we have to look forward to. Keep an eye out for the return of TV Burp, Merlin and the debut of Matt Smith as the new Doctor in Dr Who. In the realm of talent shows we also have Britain’s Got Talent which will be entertaining despite the likely ‘difficult second album syndrome’ following the outstanding year 2009 was for the show. X Factor of course will be back and hopefully will produce another Leona year, rather than another Alexandra Bur….sorry, just typing her name makes me drop off. We also have So You Think You Can Dance debuting next week which is actually pretty exciting despite it’s quit low key presence so far. The show was a MASSIVE hit in the US and Australia and could well be the BBC’s way of finally cracking the talent show market. Also worth keeping a look out for are both America’s Got Talent and American Idol (with coverage right here from our own Ruben Pena) which usually attain a much higher level of quality than their UK counterparts. Finally, the last series of The South Bank Show will end it’s run on ITV. I really, really hope this gets a good rating to encourage ITV to try and take on a few more highbrow shows.
On the other side of the coin, we have Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother, both crawling miserably along to their cancellation. If only the execs had listened to the original Producers, then the show would be returning with a bang this year rather than the somewhat pathetic end to the one time juggernaut. The Tudors also gladly comes to an end, as an example of all style and no substance programming. Ashes to Ashes too ends, taking with it a massive case of missed potential, having been losing momentum since it originally spun off Life on Mars. The ending of shows such as these though will open several new scheduling segments which hopefully will mean some exciting new talent getting a chance to shine. Several other shows which need to be put out of their misery are going to dog the schedule too. Last of the Summer Wine is going to get ANOTHER series, which is fairly inexplicable, as is a second series of the revamped Krypton Factor which lost all the unique charm the old series carried. We finish the lowlights for the rest of the year with another, frankly bizarre revamp…Going for Gold returns, this time on Five presented by John Suchet. Why again!?
So that’s me for this special edition! We’re back to normal next week, send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments section below. Until then, check out Eoin’s predictions for 2010 and remember to always stay safe!
Welcome Ladies and Gents to the last TTWTWB of the year (next week will bring two special editions!) ! To kick us off this week, our theme is from last week’s Without a Trace (I’m a week behind, thank goodness for Sky+). It is The Cinematic Orchestra with ‘Ma Fleur’.
Well I promised you a new feature this week, and sho’ nuff, here it is!
Each week we will take a peek into the dark, scary place that is a soap writer’s mind, and see just what they had planned before someone with something close to an iota of sense, or just dumb luck/misfortune stopped them from scarring us forever with their sick imaginations.
My initial thought was to ease us all in gently so as to ease the transition, but then I realised I didn’t want to let anybody think I was being a tad melodramatic with my intro there, so brace yourself, because this ain’t pretty!
This particular abomination involved the character Dennis Rickman in Eastenders.
Dennis was introduced as the illegitimate son of ‘Dirty’ Den Watts (and indeed, announced that his Dad had in fact magically come back to life! Ok, so there wasn’t actually any magic involved, but the Eastenders writing was descending into the virtual Mobster warfare farce that would plague Albert Square for a while, so it’s not much of a stretch of fancy). Marketed as the official Eastenders soap hunk, he fell into a series of typically overdramatic storylines, sleeping with half the female population of East London and killing gangsters (as you do) before finally settling down and marrying her…
HER! Sharon Mitchell nee Watts. What’s that you say? Her surname was Watts? “But Chris!” I hear you cry, “Dennis’ Father was also called ‘Watts’!” That’s because, like all soap writers, the Eastenders lot love quasi-incestual relationships too! Dennis Rickman married his adoptive Sister (and they didn’t state the fact she was adopted NEARLY enough when they were together on screen either).
Before Miss Piggy left Kermit for Dennis though, the writers had something terrible in store. Dennis, the young man you saw previously, was due to sleep with…
PEGGY MITCHELL! Yes, I’m serious. That’s what they had planned. Age gaps and terrible mental images aside, that would have meant Dennis would have slept with the Mother of two of Sharon’s exes, Phil and Grant. I’m not even going to attempt to figure out where they would have gone from there, the results are all too vile to consider. Needless to say, any soap parody from that point on would have been rendered futile, as no comedic or satirical effort would have provided a more over the top, cliched and just plain ugly plot than the one that was nearly on offer here. So what was it that prevented this terrible event? A bright flash of genius from a Producer? A sudden pang of realisation from the writers themselves? Of course not. Barbara Windsor was involved in a car accident, which meant she needed some time off, which led to a changing of filming schedules, which caused the storyline to be shelved and eventually ditched.
In the end, Dennis was killed, a victim of the near-prohibition era Mafiosa that were roaming the East End so commonly earlier this decade. A fate, I’m sure you’ll agreed, that is a lot kinder than being written into bed with Mrs Mitchell.
When it comes to TV in this past week, it’s pretty difficult to offer my usual commentaries as the schedule has been all Christmassed up the wazoo, but this is a bit of a cool period as regards TV anyhow, with the vaccuum of good shows following the conclusion of Strictly, X Factor and the various other major series that have finished recently.
One series finishing that I MUST highlight for you though, is Merlin. I have often sung the praises of this series, and bemoaned the lack of showcasing it receives, with the awful Robin Hood given priority by the BBC, but I really feel that the Beeb simply cannot continue to simply to throw it in the schedule and forget about it after the incredible standards that have recently been reached. I wrote recently about the heartwrenching scenes in which Merlin (Colin Morgan) held the cursed Druid girl as she died, and the superb dramatic climax achieved when Bradley’ James Arthur confronted his Father (Anthony Head) about the truth behind his birth and the death of his Mother. This trend I am delighted to say continued with a stellar final two episodes of the series. Merlin as a show has been criticised at times for ignoring the Arthurian Legends and the Mabinogion, but this series has developed Morgana’s turn to dark magic, the budding relationship between Arthur and Guinevere and Merlin’s continued growth. Although the light comic touch of earlier episodes was still present, the final two episodes really amped up the tension as Morgana unwittingly betrayed Camelot, leading to Merlin making a deal with the last dragon and setting him free to unleash his vengeance on Uther and Camelot, before Merlin discovered his lineage as a Dragon Lord and subdued him saving the day. To anyone who isn’t aware of the series or it’s premise, that will sound a bit daunting and generally a bunch of gobbledygook, but trust me, these latest episodes have transformed it from a pleasing Saturday evening distraction into absolutely must watch drama.
Well I’m very happy to say we’ve been spared from the usual holiday horrors this year, as quite amazingly, it’s a case of all highlights this week with not one serious black mark!
We kick off our highlights for the next week with a dramatic and cultural fervour, as David Tennant, fresh from his Doctor Who stint, brings his stage production of Hamlet to the television. Shakespeare so rarely gets a proper outing, and Tennant is a superb actor, so this is a real TV event. I reccommend this to everybody as an absolute can’t miss prospect.
Up next is a slightly less cultural offering, but nonetheless just as fulfilling extravaganza with Harry Hill’s TV Burp Review of the Year. Expect the usual madness, with a few surprises thrown in, and maybe even a cameo from the Knitted Character, the Shark and the Jelly. But the problem here is…I like the usual madness, and I like the few surprises…but which is better? There’s only one way to find out…
Celebrity Mastermind is our third highlight for the coming week. I’m really not a fan of John Humphries as a host, he’s made the regular Mastermind series unwatchable with his condescending, smarmy attitude, but on the Celebrity edition (and trust me, this is likely the only time I’m going to favour something with ‘Celebrity’ in the title), the guests are well versed in TV and able to give as good as they get and stick up for their specialist subjects. Plus there is always the siadenfraude factor given by the possibility of seeing a celebrity strike out.
We finish the highlights with a double dose of sitcom. Outnumbered, soon to start it’s last series before sadly being axed offers improvisational genius and is another ‘can’t miss’ show. Also starting on Channel 4 is another attempt to fill the gap left by Friends as According to Jim debuts. Starring Jim Belushi (my long lost Brother. Trust me the likeness between the Belushis and I is frightening), this is a relatively standard family based comedy, but should provide enough entertainment to make a popular schedule filler.
And that’s me for the week, and indeed the year as far as TTWTWB. Next week we have our year end review and a preview of the television of 2010. Send any feedback to email@example.com or leave a message in the comments section below. Keep your eyes peeled for some special 2010 previews from Eoin in the coming week as well as an exciting new lifestyle feature, and remember to always stay safe. PLAY ME OFF KEYBOARD CAT!!
YouBookIt is a show where host Matt Schorr makes it his mission to take storylines that should not work and makes them work.
In Episode One, with Hulk Hogan set to join TNA in January, he asks what if Hogan changed his mind and set his eyes towards one of the fastest rising independents around, Chikara Pro based down in Philidephia?
In Episode Two he asks the question of What if Triple H, 12 time World and WWE Champion, packed his bags and entered the ring of the 3rd place company in America, Ring of Honor and sets his eyes on adding the ROH World title to his trophy case?
Our theme for this special Royal Variety Performance edition of TTWTWB comes from the conclusion of this week’s Holby City, The Fray with You Found Me.
As mentioned before, this is a special edition, which means we have a lot to cover, so straight away let’s get down to business!
Fittingly, as we’re coming to the end of the year, this will be our last look Dingle Files, but never fear, a new soap feature will be beginning very soon! Our final look at the Dingle brood showcases the younger generation.
Parents: Chastity, Gordon
Aaron is the newest edition to the regular cast members of the Dingle clan. Initially introduced as a criminal tearaway in true Dingle fashion, the writers have now introduced a more human side to his character. Rather than just being a typical soap opera bad lad, Danny Miller has developed the character into a young man you can see genuinely feels betrayed and let down by both parents and is trying hard to make his own way in life. His frayed relationship with his Mother in particular has been well portrayed, as he clings more to her ex-partner Paddy for an authority figure and generally tries to do right by him. Most recently he has set off on the path to potentially becoming the first openly homosexual Dingle, after he tried to kiss his best friend. The Emmerdale writers have impressed me here, as they haven’t gone with the over the top, all guns blazing approach to the subject matter that most soaps have a convention for doing (Coronation Street with the impending Sophie/Sian storyline, take note!) and have let Miller continue to convey the character’s internal dilemma and left the storyline to slowburn. This being a soap, of course it’s not all been good! Every so often, the writers seem to forget the development of Aaron and have him do something idiotic and thuggish and act as a stereotype ‘chav’ teenager, which benefits nobody. The character is troubled, not a moron. The same can not be said however, for some of the aforementioned writers it seems.
Belle is something of a rarity, not just in soap opera, but in Television and Film writing everywhere, an intelligent child character that doesn’t come across as a smart alec who just annoys everybody. Far from it infact, as superb young actress Eden Taylor-Draper, as featured in a previous column way back when, manages (unlike the majority of the rest of her televised family) to avoid descending into parody. She delivers comedy lines with great vim and timing and has had a number of heart-wrenching storylines too, where Eden has shown acting ability beyond her years. As she has grown and the ‘cute’ factor has worn off, she has remained entertaining, which is the real acid test for any young actor or actress. If Emmerdale can (and they absolutely should) do everything possible to keep Eden on the show, then they have a star for years to come.
And thus endeth The Dingle Files! It’s been a lot of fun looking at Emmerdale’s first family, and I may well revisit them in the future. Next week we will begin a new feature entitled ‘What If?’, looking at the hastily dropped and rewritten storylines that soaps have butchered up for us over the years!
Well the big TV event this week was of course the Royal Variety Performance, and it was as varied as you would expect! It started off with the Anthem as standard, sung by Faryl Smith of Britain’s Got Talent fame and The Soldiers (who were a cause of tabloid controversy in the build to the event as they weren’t wearing their uniforms. I say? Big freaking deal! They’re called “THE SOLDIERS”! People know who they are and what they do! I know I’m on thin ice as someone who regularly rants about the quality of television shows, but some newspapers REALLY need to stop leaping into a high dudgeon every time something of absolutely no consequence happens!). Faryl outshone the three guys, but the Anthem is much of a muchness anyhow.
Peter Kay was the MC for the night, which was a brave choice given how hit and miss he can be, and considering the ab0mination his last major TV contributions have been with his terrible mock reality show and his glorified drag act ‘singing’ (There you go newspapers! You want something to rant about, how about a comedian using a song with as serious connotations as ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ and putting it in a comedy medlee?) but he did the job reasonably well, had some bright comedy moments and didn’t hog the limelight, which is all you ask of an MC for an event like this.
The first proper act was quite curious and had me concerned about the calibre of the entertainment for the evening, with the bizarre combination of Anastacia, Lulu and Chaka Khan. Not the most natural trio to pick I’m sure you’ll agree. It was nice to see Anastacia looking well and back in her old guise with the glasses, as the last time I saw her she had a terrible cookie cutter makeover, and the three performed Relight My Fire before seguing into some horrific Beyonce number. It was a passable performance all things considered, but a very odd opener.
Following that was one of the lesser known acts for the evening, Traces who performed an impressive tumbler act. They were a nice change of pace for the Royal Variety with a real street performer look giving a nice edge to the evening. That was followed though by a very unpleasent edge. I’m never going to be Mylie Cyrus’ biggest fan, but I had respect for her as a performer…until this. There is something very, very wrong with a girl of Cyrus’ age gyrating in leather hotpants, ESPECIALLY when she is marketed to children so heavily as Hannah Montana.
The night took an upward swing after that very low point, as the wonderful Whoopi Goldberg introduced the cast of the Sister Act musical, who gave a really energetic performance that showcased their abilities wonderfully.
This being variety, we wouldn’t of course be complete without a ventriloquist. Paul Zerdin was the man on the spot here with ‘Sam’. He did a decent little performance, including some audience participation, and seemed to be a very useful performer as far as his ability as a ventriloquist, but isn’t, at least on this evidence, the most gifted voice actor which took the sheen of what could have been a big break.
Mika was up next, and gave a solid performance, but nothing show stealing with his song ‘Rain’, which was followed by the first comedian of the night (other than the aforementioned host) Paddy McGuinness. Given that Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness essentially have the same act, it seemed odd to have them both on the same bill, and Paddy was largely forgettable with no big laughs to be had.
Next we had our second candidate for show stealer, as Katherine Jenkins sang with a large, elaborate stage display around her. Passing up on the classical stuff, she sang Evanesence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’ and really left the audience wanting more. It also left me very interested in hearing her take on more heavy songs, perhaps in unison with Hayley Westernra (who’s version of Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters is also a favourite of mine).
Hal Crumden was our next act, and was a nicely alternative standup performance, with a very different style and delivery to Kay and McGuinness. He got the second big laugh of the night after Whoopi’s short turn, and could well be the launchpad to greater things for Hal.
Michael Buble was next on stage to stake his claim for performance of the night. A stellar performance of Jazz/Blues classic Cry Me A River was followed by a well executed little skit with Peter Kay (which included an amusing shot at Madonna, for no clear reason other than taking shots at Madonna is amusing) and then Buble’s second song Hold On.
After that was the second low point of the night after Ms Cyrus. Andre Rea and the Johan Strauss Orchestra, while inoffensive, were utterly boring, doing nothing aside from a very dull recital. Out of nowhere, dancers in the aisles of the auditorium appeared to liven things up a bit, but the mood had been killed by then anyhow.
Jason Manford gave us our penultimate comic performance of the night, and was ok, if unspectacular. His act again can be similar to that of Peter Kay and Paddy McGuinness, but he was able to give us enough of a change for it to be fresh, and it woke us up after the Waltz.
Diversity were up next, after winning Britain’s Got Talent. As a dance troupe, they have real ingenuity and that had me excited, but I was also very cautious, given the terrible performance of the previous winner, George Sampson. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about as Diversity unlike George had clearly retained creative control of their act, and were our fourth blowaway act of the night.
Things stayed impressive too, as Lady Gaga equalled all that had come before with her usual elaborate stage performances and great vocal and piano skills with ‘Speechless’. It also later gave us an inexplicably hilarious image of Lady Gaga shaking hands with Queen Elizabeth II, which made the whole thing worthwhile.
Our final comic performance of the night was also the best, continuing the run of good acts, as Australian Adam Hills took to the stage. I’m a big fan of Hills comedy and he got the most laughs of the night. I do feel the need to point out that a Royal Variety performance is a tough stage for any comedian. In a short space of time they have to establish themselves, make their style of comedy known and get sufficient laughs before closing appropriately and usually introducing the next act. All things considered, the whole bunch did well.
Next was our third very low point of the night, and the best sleep I’d had since this person performed at the final of The X Factor. Alexandra Burke is an act I really have no time for. She has an ok voice, but that is it. There is nothing in the performance and no feeling in the vocal. The only positive I’ll give this is that traditionally on boxing and wrestling cards, there is a match placed to deliberately cool the crowd so they aren’t burned out for the main event. This filled THAT role superbly.
Our second ‘alternative performance’ act of the night was the shadow dancing act Pilobolus, that also performed at the Oscar’s ceremony earlier this year. They were very impressive, but as with all non musical acts, time restrictions meant we only got a brief taster of what they could have shown us.
Bette Midler was of course the headline act for the show this year, and The Divine Ms M was on top form, humble, gracious and in superb voice. For someone who has achieved so much in a career spanning as long as her’s does, there was not a hint of any celebrity arrogance or seperation. Instead it was like watching an old friend on stage, a really warm crescendo.
Bette introduced the Sister Act cast again for the closing performance followed by all the acts taking their bow. As Royal Variety Performances go, this was one of the better in recent memory with the good far outweighing the bad. Mylie Cyrus will be a black mark against it, but the run of performances from Katherine Jenkins through to Adam Hills was spectacular.
But anyhoo, that’s been and gone and I’m here to preview what’s not been but is what is yet to come….or something….Anyway…it’s mostly highlights this week!
We start those off with the free TV debut of the Knight Rider remake. It doesn’t quote have the kitsch charm of the original, nor does it have David Hasselhoff’s unrequited love affair with a car, but rather like the Bionic Woman remake, it gives a slick looking modern adaptation that entertains and will attract a new audience who never got to enjoy Kitt first time round.
Another US import on Five now, as ‘Til Death debuts. Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond and Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling (What!? He voices Hogan in it!) fame stars, and that is a very good sign, as he has a real knack for comedy. It’s been a while since a US comedy really struck big on UK TV, so Five will be hoping it succeeds.
Next up is what looks to be a real standout drama. Crusoe is a production of the classic Daniel Defoe novel. It’s a story I would have thought most people know at least a portion of, and is a classic energetic drama. With an excellent cast including Sam Neill and guest starring Sean Bean for the first episode, this could rival Wuthering Heights, Lie to Me, FlashForward and Stargate: Universe for the best show this year has produced.
Our final highlight is the only thing with ‘Christmas’ in the title you’re ever likely to see me put in this section! Royal Institution Christmas Lectures is intelligent television that is truly accessible to anybody who wants something to get their teeth into over the holiday period. Featuring some of the best lecturers in the academic world, really this is ‘can’t miss’ television.
As good as those shows will be though, we have two absolute abominations for you to avoid!
Heads or Tails is the latest attempt by a channel to recreate the success and popularity of Deal or No Deal and is also the latest attempt that will fail. Big money prizes, but lazy overhyped quiz styling is really getting to be old hat now.
Our second lowlight is something that really chills me to the bone…The Nolans: In the Mood for Dancing. This has left me in the mood only to do this…
PLAY THEM OFF KEYBOARD CAT!
That’s me for the week, keep an eye out over the next few weeks for year ending articles as well as TTWTWB as normal next week. Send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and remember to always stay safe.
Aloha, Bienvenue and Buenos Aries everybody, and welcome to the latest edition of The TV Week That Will Be! Our theme music this week is brought to us by Jenny Lewis….take it Jenny!
Acid Tongue there, which featured at the conclusion of episode 14 of Without A Trace, a series with a significant amount of gas left in the tank it seems, despite this being the last ever series. At least it will be going out on top rather than ekeing itself out for far too long as do many TV series.
Now to business!
This week, we’re going to feature just one member of the clan, our favourite son, Eli.
Parents: Albert, Delilah
Perhaps more than any other, Eli, played superbly by Joseph Gilgun has suffered at the temperamental hands of soap writers. After being introduced as a comedy relief ‘black sheep’, a series of extremely well acted emotional storylines set both the character and actor apart as having something special, and oozing potential to be the next star of Emmerdale, the pet project around which future storylines could be built. All the while maintaining his wonderful comic timing, Gilgun portrayed heartbreaking regret at having accidentally shot his own brother in a robbery gone awry, a sole voice of reason in begging Marlon to take his wife back following an affair and then in what was the Soap’s dramatic peak in recent times, turned himself into a leading man, pursuing murderer Jasmine to save his cousin (and in true Dingle fashion, true love) Debbie from conviction, even falsely confessing himself to try and protect her from gaol. In their eternal wisdom however, the Emmerdale writers soon reverted to type following the conclusion of that storyline and Eli turned back into the loveable comedy putz, and despite still stealing every scene he appears in, he looks destined to stay that way until, brace yourselves ‘Dale fans, he leaves in the new year!
That’s right, Emmerdale is set to become a whole lot poorer soon as Joe Gilgun disappears for sunnier climes. Unlike several Soap departures for ‘bigger’ things though, this one looks to already be on the path to success after a great turn as an accomplice black market dealer in the vaunted independent film Harry Brown (which comes reccommended by none other than my Mother!). The door is open for a return as Eli in the future apparently, so we can always hope that we’ll get some more of that trademark wit in the Dales in the future. I would like to thank Joe for his entertaining and enthralling performances on the show and wish him the very best for the next step of his career.
Next week will be our final edition of The Dingle Files as we look to the new generation!
Elsewhere on television in the last two weeks we saw the end of the latest series in the UK of Law And Order: Special Victims Unit, not that you would know it with the way Five has neglected it during this series. Not one mention, not one promotion and not even a post episode voiceover telling us when it would be returning. Plenty of hype for Justice Shades in CSI:Miami though…
SVU is one of the very best crime dramas on television, with particularly good emphasis on the characters of the detectives themselves. Chris Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Belzer and Ice T all have terrific range and great interplay, and on the whole deserve better treatment by Five than they currently get.
I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here mercifully ended too. Kim Woodburn is now on our blacklist alongside the Loose Women hosts. Please, please ITV, no more series of this!
But we’re here for a reason so let us get down to the business!
Our highlights kick off this week with the return of a BBC staple…
That’s right, Ski Sunday is back. Since it’s revamp, new life has been breathed into the programme, and made it much more accessible to your average sports fan. With an exciting season for winter sports ahead with the Olympics, this is essential viewing if you intend to keep an eye on the results.
The Xtra Factor: Best and Worst 2009 reminds us of the best part of the whole X Factor caboodle, with the dreadful auditions providing great comedy value. Siadenfraude might be a bit low, but we all need our kicks somehow!
Our final highlight for the week is the return of another revamped BBC classic in One Man and His Dog. It’s fun, relaxing and retains it’s twee quality without being over the top. If you watch it and get to know the course the competitors run too, it can be quite engaging, and you’ll find yourself rooting for the hairy little contestants. And their dogs.
But while we have a pleasing little trio of highlights, we also have two gaping chasms of trash to balance things out!
We start with a genre that the BBC seems desperate to expand on…Dance shows. You’d think they would just focus their attentions on Strictly Come Dancing and be happy with that success, but nooooooooo, that would be too obvious. After the flop that was Dance X we now have the quite heartless posthumous cash in Move Like Michael Jackson. That’s right, a talent show where people have to dance like Michael Jackson. Given that the BBC seems to not want to fully cash in on the audition rounds of talent shows like The X Factor does so well, this won’t even have the unintentional comedy that the genre should guarantee. As for the actual content, well, as impressive as Jackson’s dance moves are…why would we want to see numerous people imitating them?
Our other lowlight for the week doesn’t really need any more to be said about it. Come Dine With Me: Extra Portions is pretty inexplicable, so I’ll just leave it up to a friend of the column…
PLAY THEM OFF KEYBOARD CAT!!
I’ll leave you then in the capable paws of the keyboarding kitty. See you next week, send any feedback to email@example.com or in the comments below and remember to always stay safe.
You know what? I quite enjoyed having a theme tune last week, so let’s do it again. This time with a song I’d long forgotten until this week’s Stargate: Universe. It may seem droll but HIT THE MUSIC!
Cracking track there, and I’ll talk more about the show itself in a moment, but first we have some business to take care of!
It’s been an eventful week in Dingledom actually, as Jeff Hordley got to flex his acting muscles a bit more than usual, as Charity broke Cain’s heart again, but he’s not the only one who’s had a bit more to do as this week also saw a return to classic form for…
Parents: Albert, Delilah
Spouse: Tricia (Deceased) Donna (Seperated, pending divorce)
Mark Charnock as Marlon really is one of Emmerdale’s top performers with a knack for tremendous comedy performances (usually largely improvised dialogue with either Paddy or Eli) and that rarest thing in soap operas, subtle emotional performances. Sadly Emmerdale’s writers love to saddle him with terrible storylines, usually via his current romantic link. His relationship with and marriage to Tricia was littered with awful plots. To his credit, Mark wasn’t responsible for these and always more than carried his side, but Sheree Kewell/Murphy’s inability to act without screaching nasally made them painful to watch whenever she was around. For the longest time with his second wife Donna, things seemed to be very stable and un-soaplike. Donna’s character was very sensible and combined with the goodhearted Marlon, they completed a series of very enjoyable ‘Us against the world’ type plots, but of course this wouldn’t continue. The long running soap convention of needless affairs came knocking, as Donna ended up in a tryst with the incredibly unlikeable Ross. Once again, Mark Charnock was not at fault and played the damaged spouse very well, but even he couldn’t save that dross as it circled the plughole for weeks on end. Most recently the character of Marlon has been in a state of flux, most significantly aiding his brother Eli in his efforts to save Debbie from gaol, where he played a superb supporting role, until this past week when he revealed he had fallen for married workmate Moira. Pleasingly so far, she has simply let him down gently and supported him at a difficult emotional time as he still pines for Donna, rather than the ‘easy way out’ with yet another soap affair. The highlight of this though has been the increased number of scenes with Paddy and Eli which remain probably the most consistently entertaining parts of UK soap opera on TV.
I was due to cover Eli this week too, but given the sad news that Joe Gilgun will be leaving Emmerdale in early 2010, he’ll have his own feature next week on THE DINGLE FILES!
As promised in the intro, I wanted to talk a bit about Stargate: Universe too, and I don’t really have anything but good things to say about the show. This past week added significantly more layers to the human relationship aspect of the show. The drama heightened between Col. Young (Justin Louis) and Col. Telford (Lou Diamond Phillips) over Telford’s affair with Young’s wife, cumulating in Young, using the pebbles to switch places with a rank and file soldier (bear with me if you don’t follow SG and don’t understand that. Just think of it as a Quantum Leap type switcharoo. If you’ve never watched QL…why not!?) to seek physical retribution against Telford, in probably the most earthy, real ‘fight’ scene in SG history. Telford is developing into the villain of the series rapidly. Wray’s (Ming Na) trip to see her partner led to her breaking down and after having been one of the calmest on the Destiny, she looks ready to fall apart. The most revealing and greatest character development was that of Matthew Scott (Brian J Smith) who discovered his actions that led to him leaving candidacy for the Priesthood aged 16 had farther reaching connotations as he discovered he has an eight year old son. This led to him questioning his burgeoning relationship with Chloe Armstrong (Elyse Levesque), but developing a tighter bond with Eli (David Blue) who revealed a great deal about his personality and low self-esteem in the process. Combine this excellent development of the characters and their response to pressure of their situation to the incredibly tense sci fi almost thriller aspects, and you have a tremendous show, accessible to even the most ardent sci fi cynic.
But anyhow, enough of that, we came here for a reason after all…let’s get highlighting!
Oh wait…did I say highlighting? THERE ARE NONE! NONE WHATSOEVER! ZIP! ZILCH! ZERO! NADA! Not one new series to extoll the virtues of. There is some tennis and some rugby on this weekend if you’re a sports fan, but other than that, watch the regulars and rent some DVDs!
We’re even low on lowlights this week, but two shows standout as particularly rubbish.
Firstly The Queen on Channel 4. Now I might be a bit biased against this, because I loathe the film of the same name, but I really don’t see it being possible to do a convincing drama about royalty, especially current day, without resorting to sensationalism and over the top guess work in filling in the gaps. This reeks of pretty lazy writing.
Our other lowlight for the week is a reel humdinger. Big Top has frustrating potential with an interesting premise and a great supporting cast. So why is it a lowlight? Simple. It’s on 7.30 PM on a Wednesday and it stars Amanda Holden. The plot reads like a cut and paste of sitcom cliches and really it all just comes over as being very cheap and nasty.
So that’s me for the week. Bit of a shorter edition because of the lack of programmes to showcase, but usually that means we’re in for a bumper few weeks so join me next week for that. Keep your eyes peeled for Eoin’s look at the year ahead for Marvel and DC and for my interview with Gemma Bright about her project in development Outcast Hero. Send any feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments and remember to always stay safe.