Monday, 13 September 2010

Ann Widdicombe, Merlin and Football. Normal service has resumed

You can tell summer is over, the last blush of delusion from that Toon 6-0 win against Villa is gone, and Mock the Week is back. While I'm pleased to have MTW back, the aura of invincibility could have lasted a little bit longer. I'd much rather have seen Newcastle in 4th, instead of Blackpool  sitting high in the table and us12th.

This last week, that is as off Thursday when life resumed to about as normal as it gets at ours, we sat down to the first new Mock the week since the last new MTW aired. How long has it been? Let me tell you. While the panel may have had time to mock the England team and vuvuzelas, they missed out on a lot of other cracking stuff. Like what you ask? Barry Moat, Gazza and his fried chicken, the Labour leadership contest annnd  and  ermmmm nowt much else if were honest. Seems even the freaks and chronic attention seekers take the summer off. Which is not to say there wasn't plenty to talk about on the first show back. Wayne Rooney, prostitutes, threesomes and Tony Blair's new book among other things. Best answer of the ep was "Ballistic Missiles Improve Sunderland" . I'd like to say I miss a certain panellist, but so far so good. Ironic comic in a bad Hawaiian shirt, Milton Jones stopped Dara in his tracks with a joke that is worth re-watching for. The rest of the cast, guests and regulars regardless, carried on in usual fine style. Between Mock the Week and Qi soon, there will be no excuse for UK comedians to starve on our watch. 

Merlin was next up on the Saturday and to be honest I was looking forward to it about as much as a goose looks forward to Christmas. It's my wife that really wanted to watch, but if I wanted to have some leverage later on for something less to her liking, I was going to watch and that's it. She says it has something that reminds her of Xena about it, just camp and silly enough to forgive most sins. But even she can't get past the Gwen character who will eventually have to reveal some kind of noble blood, explain the less than fair complexion  and stop being a washer woman before Arthur can marry her. I understand why it was done, but it doesn't make it right.  And on this one point we at least agree. I however found the wholesale ripping off of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter a bit hard to swallow in the first ep back. The CGI monsters made a lot of racket and had me expecting the Knights who say NI a lot, only to turn out to be very un-scary spiders and scorpions that even Ron Weasley would have had no trouble wishing away. Next week we get Ray Harryhausen skeletons that aren't much better than the last time they fought Jason and the Argonauts in the early 60's. It seems even the matting of scenes that purport to be ancient Camelot, ruined abbeys or dark scary crossings into haunted woods are more obvious than usual. All of these faults can be laid at the door of the producers and writers, but the  principal crime against acting in the series opener is the actress playing Morgana. Katie McGrath leers and winks her way through the story like nobody sees her acting so suspiciously that a blind man would know she's up to no good. Seriously, did no one notice how she wasn't the least surprised when the King fell ill or that she didn't seem to be concerned? If it weren't for the dragon at the end, I'd have been livid, instead, I was laughing my arse off. Proof if we needed it, that last years money is gone and they had to resort to 70's animated lizard stock. Merlin had better be on it's last series if this sort of mess is the best we can expect.

Oh and right after that Strictly Come Dancing returned complete with Brucie. It's nice to see you, nice to see you nice Brucie . It's not Strictly without him. Along with the returning Judges, yes even Alisha Dixon is back from her extended tour of the USA. Seems she wasn't as big as Katie Price or Lady Sov, so she came home, we have a few new dancers. As I don't follow the World Cup of Ballroom, I have no idea who these new people are, but they are supposed to be good. And if the display of styles they put on was any indication, we're in for a decent couple of months of dance. And the the celebrities this year? I didn't believe it either. They've gone out of their way to add a few dancers older than Brucie and one of them is Ann Widdicombe. And guess who got paired off with her???? That's right, last series tosser of the year, Anton DuBeck. Serves him right. During the group dance it looked like he was dancing with his gran, very badly. As well, the great tradition of paring off well fit single people with equally fit professional dancers continues. There are at least two couples if not three in the making and I predict Corrie babe Tina O'Brien will be the least concerned about being linked to her young American partner.

The second favourite sport during strictly season after who's shagging who, is of course who will be voted off and who will stay no matter how rubbish they are. Evil Australian judge has warned he won't be tolerating any dead men dancing like last year. What about dead grans embarrassing themselves? I doubt we have to worry. Ann Widdicombe is a bad dancer, she's poorly paired, she's Ann Widdicombe and she's a Tory, that should be enough to have her sent packing in 4 or 5 weeks when the show comes back. I have  greater concern over the towering figure of Peter Shilton. As a footballing hero and potentially far better dancer than a certain boxer last year, he could be a dark horse who could be a vote getter that hoys off more talented but less loved people. Another one who could have staying power, if people my age vote and she can dance, is Felicity Kendall. I first fell in love with her when she appeared in The Good Life. To this day I still think allotments are sexy and wellies on a woman need not be a bad thing. I think despite Len Goodman saying the same thing every year, this may be the best Strictly ever. Other than the vicious uncalled for on air murdering of Ballroom Blitz, the series seems off to a good start. Michelle Williams, former Destiny Child is looking to make a permanent move to the UK and the rest of the stars lined up, all seem to have no real desperation about them. It's a proper list of mostly respectable names we can relate to. Last thing about this year's Strictly, it's cut the number of celebs and is paying them on a " As you dance" basis. So if somebody crashes out early they won't be getting a huge pay out. Good thing too, Merlin needs all the money it can get to improve the look of it's monsters.

Sunday night was the icing on the cake. "Newcastle night" BBC4 billed it, and it was good . First up Coast , then Today I'm with you followed by Newcastle on Film capped off by the excellent A Journey Back to Newcastle: Michael Smith's Deep North An emotional trip any way you sliced it. Do yourself a favour and watch on the iPlayer if you missed any of these. Regardless of if you live in the Toon, are away or just love Newcastle, any one of these programs will leave you wiser and all the more seduced and attached to the City on the Tyne.

My one special recommendation from a brilliant list of programmes off the BBC's Planet North schedule is Corrie: The Road to Coronation Street.Thursday at 9 pm, the BBC ( not ITV) will tell the story of the oldest running soap in the land. In an interesting casting touch, James Roache will play his father William Roache playing Ken Barlow. David Dawson, most recently from Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Thick of it, plays Corrie creator Tony Warren. Full cast list and lots more here . A pity the current Corrie has so soured me I may not be able to watch till I know the great train accident is upon  us.

Battle of Britain season should be excellent as well. so look out for that.

In Torchwood news too strange for some of us, Ianto Jones apparently will be back from the dead in the next  series. How they will explain this one is beyond me, but given enough time and money, I'm sure they'll come up with something plausible. In the mean time we can all play silly theory. How one dies of an alien virus and lives again, is beyond me. Maybe he only had a cold and was covered by the solid lead table nearby we hadn't noticed before. Perhaps it was all in fact a dream and he'll walk out of the shower any minute now... Come on RTD, You better make this a good one, or we'll write terrible things about you in Galli Base (like that hasn't happened before).


Anonymous said...

I must admit that I actually like Merlin and was really looking forward to the new series. Your Mrs is right there is something very Xena about the series (another of my fave shows), my wife has no interest in it whatsoever and was watching The X-Factor instead!

Ianto coming back? What for? I think they should leave him dead, it will ruin the end of COE to me if he returns, after all Tosh didn't come back from the dead, so why should Ianto?

Mietek Padowicz said...

Thanks for the comment. You're right of course, Merlin is in fact incredibly Xena like, but where Xena takes the piss with History and logic, Merlin does it in a way with Gwen that pretends it's somehow ok to mess with the story that much. Xena always had it's tongue firmly planted in cheek and why I too loved it.

As for Ianto? Ratings, seems there was a campaign to save him from the first minute he expired. Why respect those of us who suffered and mourned. Better to pander to people who aren't ready to accept sometimes characters die, it's what made COE so compelling.