Friday, April 11, 2008


The producers have surpassed themselves. Every target of watercooler hatred is here. The dickhead sales managers; the "project managers" who spend their time in meetings or writing motivational speeches, and Vicky Pollard's cousin!

This week, evil ginger stringbean Ms Celeriac is first to the emailer phone (yes, I did used to work with someone like her, and yes, the feeling was mutual), and gleefully passes on SirAlan's summons to the 4th floor of the Tate - some crazy metaphor about regeneration. SirAlan wants the candidates to "regenerate" the urban pub trade, with a day of gastropubbery in Islington. I note that La Celeriac appears to wear one of her nasty air-hostess type scarves even to bed. Does she have really awful prison style neck tattoos or something?

Strangely shiny mandroid Ian the Notloser is appointed project manager for the boys team - sorry, Renaissance. Kevin, who gets more like a walking Little Britain sketch every week, announces that he has eaten in a few Italian restaurants, so why don't they have an Italian evening. Refa says: "Yah! And let's all talk with Italian accents!" Quick! somebody call Boris Johnson and get this man onto his PR team! Notloser makes Kevin the head chef, because apparently he opened a jar of Dolmio once.

The Posh boys leap into action and go off to design their menus. Oh yes, the menus. Kevin discusses the menus with the kitchen adviser (appointed so that they don't poison the punters and sue SirAlan). Kitchen Adviser tries not to smirk as Kevin says: "Ummm...spaghetti bolognese...and carbonara....and mushrooms, baked in the oven...with salt and pepper...and perhaps we could puree that...yeah, I've had that dish in a restaurant." Sgt Simon's face falls. And LEE McQUEEN ISN'T HAPPY, (that's the rough one that Mark fancies, though Mark fancies him a little less now that LEE McQUEEN has started referring to LEE McQUEEN in the third person and threatening to Hulk-Smash every five minutes) and he tells NotLoser so in no uncertain terms. Well, he has a point: they've got posh menus, but food. NotLoser tells Kevin to wave a spatula around or something while they sort out the menus.

The girls are going Bollywood because International Car Dealer Sara is Asian. (Venomous Claire sulks that curry is too "niche" - WTF, is she a time traveller from the 1960s or something??? and Sara later correctly points out that she often wants to tell Claire just to shut the fuck up) Trouble is, she doesn't know how to cook, and buys the wrong spices. The kitchen adviser points this out to her, and she tries to bamboozle him with some flannel about cooking proper curries. The resulting proper curry looks a little like regurgitated tripe, and tastes worse. The girls split into two teams. Celeriac and the sales ladies flog tickets for a fiver each around Islington. Mercifully, they don't have to resort to flashing their knickers and snogging tramps like in previous years. Sara and Plump Girl spend the afternoon learning to cook. By evening time, they're producing something edible, and the punters appear to have a good time, despite Celeriac and Lindi assuming that the customers want to be their bestest friends, and this will lead to more tips. Boy, these girls love their tips. The evening ends with some "Bollywood dancing" from a bloke they appear to have dragged out of the kitchen of a local tandoori house. The researcher who dug this one up deserves a medal.

I'm not quite sure what's happening with Lucinda here. Every shot of her makes look like she's about to break down in tears, and her outfits get slightly more bizarre with each episode...

There's trouble in the boys' kitchen. Yep. All that time spent on poshifying the menus, and they...ummm...forgot to go the cash and carry. So it's a supermarket sweep for jars of Dolmio, really expensive pizza bases, cheese and stuff. Sgt Simon tries his best not to cry, and shouts at NotLoser about logistics instead. Unlike the girls, the boys do open for lunch, but lots of people complain that their bolognese is nasty and bland. LEE MCQUEEN has to let them have it for free, and he's still not happy!

Head Chef Kevin seems to have got on the wrong reality show, and thinks he's on Masterchef. He demands ciabatta for the bruschetta, and Simon nearly does break down. Just before service begins, the boys get an inspirational chat from Kevin, and then out they go to sell spaghetti. About half way through the evening there's a problem: they run out of food. Simple, says Head Chef Kevin; he cuts a pizza in half and puts it on two plates, until the look of utter disgust from the customer sends fey Michael Sophocles scampering back into the kitchen.

No, this isn't Masterchef, this is Little Britain, isn't it? (More Komedy Kevin moments:

(1) Trying to pass off coffee as a desert. Yes, and why don't you offer a glass of orange juice as a starter too!

(2) Saying he would be happy to pay £4.95 for a bowl of soup in Guildford. Because that's the way Kevin rolls... in Guildford)

Well, back in the boardroom, Nick and Margaret report that the girls made less money, but managed not to blow most of their budget in Morrisons, and are therefore the winners.

Ian takes poor Sgt Simon (for insubordination and scowling) and Kevin into the boardroom. Siralan seems to have a little man crush on Sgt Simon, and wants to see what else he can do. I'm sure he can do lots of things, Siralan. Lots of sexy sexy things! Kevin actually manages to make himself look a lesser prick than Ian, but makes up for it back at the house after Ian is let go. Oh well, Ian, at least you learnt a new word, eh?

Next week: Lucinda cries! Alex looks sulky! The boys shout! and LEE MCQUEEN IS as yet undecided about his mood.

Monday, April 07, 2008

TV stuff

This blog is like the no. 68 bus. You wait ages for an update, then two come along in quick succession.

Ever since the last episode of Heroes, I've been unable to commit to any other series. I know it's silly, but I'm in mourning for SpongePete and his permanently furrowed brow. Actually Flying Man was more my type...

We decided that Ceej was old enough to start hiding behind the sofa, so family sat down for Dr Who on Saturday. This marks Ceej's first steps into the world of geekdom, and I'm proud to say that she enjoyed every minute. Actually, so did I. I worried about Catherine Tate, but I enjoyed her performance, and she made David Tennant work harder, which is always a good thing. Though I do wish they'd stop him changing suddenly from cute jokey Doctor to Serious Godlike Being about 40 minutes in. You can almost put a timer on it. I also liked this week's cute alien babies made out of HUMAN LARD.

BBC4 also showed the first ever Daleks episode, which had First Doctor William Hartnell playing a grumpy old man in a cardboard set. It also featured his granddaughter Susan, who I still want Russell Davies to resurrect as a bitter abandoned woman in her late forties.

I've been dipping into Mad Men, and it's a bit too glossy for me. Producers seem to be indulging in a bit of nostalgia for a time when men were men and women wore teeny skirts and giggled when they got their bottoms pinched. Nowadays when we get our bottoms pinched, we're empowered by our sexuality or something. But apparently it's different from then.

So Mad Men pre-dates The Feminine Mystique. Men wear suits and smoke and indulge in casual anti-semitism. And they sleep with their secretaries/bohemian divorced artist types. Women sit at home and bake cakes, looking desperate. Everything is very shiny and new, and even the nervous breakdowns are beautifully rendered. I know it was written by an ex Sopranos bod, but what I loved about The Sopranos was its tawdriness. Carmela's awful living room, the stupidly upholstered cars, or Paulie Walnuts' sweaters... Mad Men is a bit too artfully rendered for my liking.

One last thing. BBC4 is re-running original Batman shows on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Last week Vincent Price cracked some awful gags as Egghead; the week before Shelley Winters was Ma Baker...and was Adam West really taking it that seriously? Tune in tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Lots of new US shows have been popping up on UK TV lately, and I’ve been trying to watch them all!

This is one about serial killers chasing each other round Miami. One of the serial killers is actually our protagonist and works as a forensics officer with the cops, but he was trained by his dad to only torture and dismember people, who “deserve it”, like other murderers, so that’s alright then. Also he is played by Michael C Hall (aka gay David from Six Feet Under) who is a great actor and can make himself look as creepy as hell just be lowering his eyebrows slightly, which is more than alright.

After a few weeks of perseverance, my doubts about this program (slow start, over explanatory voice over, boring subplots re other cops, over-used post Silence of the Lambs nonsense about serial killers who do incredibly complicated and contrived murders without leaving any forensic evidence to “send a message” to cops on their trail, etc etc) have been dispelled – the cat and mouse plot about Dexter and a rival serial killer is really beginning to grip, and we are frequently reminded how evil and brutal Dexter is, so we don’t get too cosy about him. As well as Hall, there are good performances from Darla-from-Angel, as his wimpy girlfriend; the nice doctor lady from Oz as a bitchy police Lieutenant; and whoever it is plays Dexter’s coltish sister.

They definitely need to cut back on the voiceover though (yes, I can tell what’s happening, thanks, I am actually watching the TV program), and also reduce the number of scenes where Dexter looks at a corpse and says “He’s sending us a message”. Gah!

This features the other Six Feet Under brother, sexy Peter Kraus, as a lawyer who starts work for NYC’s richestest ever family. Donald Sutherland camps it up as the patriach, and Jill Clayburgh battles botox to move her face as the matriarch. They have lots of kids too:

1)A Baldwin plays one son who wants to be a senator, but is having a secret affair with a transsexual. Props to the producers for getting what looks like an actual tranny to play the girlfriend!
2)Some other dude plays another son who is a priest with an illegitimate child. The priest is hilariously callous and evil, more of him please!
3)There is a daughter who keeps getting divorced. She used to fancy/poss slept with Peter Kraus, and who can blame her? She is quite boring though
4)There is another daughter played by Anna off the OC, who is basically a watered down version of Paris Hilton
5)There is a young son who is a party animal and wants to be a pop star. He looks a bit like a TV actor version of Jack White Stripes White. Also quite boring.

All the family have hilarious wealth related shenanigans every week, which Peter must solve, whilst also trying to work out which one of them murdered his father! Gasp! It is OK so far. Not really camp and Dynasty-esque enough yet for my liking. They need a scheming bitch character, but Jill Clayburgh is playing more of a Krystal Karrington type and the callous priest does not quite cut it. Also they need to cut cut cut the scenes with Peter’s perky 50’s housewife type wife, who has nothing to do but wrinkle her nose at Peter’s amusing ways and ask him to explain the plot to her.

This one has an excuse to have vacuous 50’s housewives, as it’s set in the 50’s (Ok, 1960, which is basically the 50s anyway) and they all have inner lives and secret angst etc. It’s set in an advertising office where heavy drinking and smoking, and hair-raising racism, sexism and anti-Semitism are the order of the day. Our anti hero Don Draper is one of the ad execs, (played by Jon Hamm) but he is very repressed and secretive, never talks to his wife, and apparently faked his own death and took on a new identity at some point in his life. He doesn’t even get a voice over or scenes with a shrink a la the Sopranos, to explain himself, and it rather odd watching a series with a black hole of an unknowable character at the centre of it. (Hamm does the best he can with his acting skillz though, to let us know what he’s thinking)

Other main characters include his frustrated wife, his secretary Peggy, and Pete Campbell, the smarmy young rival for his job. All the period detail is fantastic and the characters spend a lot of time drinking mixed drinks in glamorous bars that I wish existed in real life so I could go to them. It is very much character driven rather than plot driven, and some episodes work better than others, I liked the ones about Peggy, Don, the arrival of the divorcee, and Pete Campbell, not so much the one with Don’s wife – I can’t wait til they get round to the bitchy red headed office manager and the art director who just HAS to be gay.

I watched the first episode and am not yet sure whether to continue. It’s also about uber rich New Yorkers, but this time they all go to high school and like totally hate each other. There is a blonde one who used to be a drunken party girl and is now reformed, there is an evil brunette who has an excellent bitch face and used to be the blonde one’s best friend, there is her pretty boy boyfriend, who is the reason the two main ones hate each other, his rapey sarcastic friend, then there are two boring ones who go to the same school that we are probably supposed to identify with. Again, it is not as much fun as something like this ought to be, but I was amused that one girl could compose two detailed txt messages whilst simultaneously fighting off the rapey one. A la Dexter, this also has an overly intrusive voice over (supposedly from the Gossip Girl website which sends out live txt alerts about the two main girl’s sex lives and what they wear etc – oh, as if), by a girl so smug and treacly that she makes Mary Alice off Desperate Housewives sound like Moira Stewart in comparison.

More tosh! Hurrah! This one features Claire-bear’s non-gay friend from Heroes as John Connor, the slightly sulky pretty boy last hope for mankind; Lena Heady as a kinder, gentler, less stringy version of Linda Hamilton; and a cute girl with a nice line in expresionless fighting and ambivalent side long glances as their pet terminator. They have cunningly forgotten about the rubbish 3rd film and carried on straight from the second one, only now someone else is going to invent Skynet so they have to search for all these computer boffins (who all live conveniently in southern California) and kill them. Meanwhile, both the goodies and baddies have been going crazy sending troops back in time to lay plans for the war, so there are terminators and freedom fighters running round all over the place. One of them turns out to be Kyle Reese’s brother, and therefore John’s uncle – he is played by the annoying one with the earring off 90210, so I hope it is only a matter of time before Shannen Doherty and Tori Spelling appear as evil killer fembots.

Related Posts with Thumbnails