Last night I switched on the (rather flat) box as it used to be known, to be saved by wonderment. There’s nothing on, nowadays, which I used to think saved my life.
However, having lost internet connection (wireless) for forty-eight hours now, I realise I have developed a problem comparable with that of the telly-addict. The welly-addict.
And being without cables has enabled me to plan for the future, chill out, do the washing up and clear my thoughts sufficiently enough to go forth into this year with more clarity than when I was obsessing with the greedy animal in the corner. The internet. Beckoning me in with it’s poo-brown dating websites. Cajoling me with tangential googling. Making me keep up with the joneses, the smiths and any other idiot on FB.
So I switched on the box.
And there was nothing on. Some kinky CSI New York with that fit bird from bulletproof in. What a pout. What an arse. What a stupid fucking programme. The women ask the men questions. The men tell them the answers. They bag a few extra bodies they weren’t expecting before the ad break. In which Paul Whitehouse, mr ‘alrich, alrich, caaahm down’, decides to die in order to sell life insurance. Okay, beats Neil Morrissey’s attempts to resurrect our dearly departed homebase, but still.
On another channel, some bitch tells me that my crash diet will kill me, as I cram reconstituted meats into my post-pudding fat face. Just as well, just as well. But couldn’t telly give us a bit more depth to the subject of our forever-ending lives?
Well yes, it can. Dirk Gently, (BBC Four, 9pm, Wednesdays), saved my life.
This is adapted from the brilliant novels of Douglas Adams, god rest his slippery soul, – not the iconic and all-encompassing ‘hitch-hikers’ series, but the lesser known Dirk Gently novels.
Simple, seamless, quirky, WATCHABLE, Dirk Gently is a delight. Played beautifully by Stephen Mangan, (the goofy ‘Guy’ in Green Wing), an hour passed without ticking, as we watch our hero immorally jape through a ridiculous, crude, yet simply touchable storyline.
We follow a ‘holistic detective’ about his capers. He is hired by a seemingly innocent older lady to track down her missing cat, George…or is it Henry? Haphazardly he leaps through time and space with bumbling and slapstick endeavour, to solve the mystery and become our unlikely, bamboozling hero….
Peppered with brilliant ‘LOL’ moments, the supporting character shrieking ‘smug bitch’ at his laptop is my favourite. The smug bitch in question is none other than the nasal Helen Baxendale, who decides to mumble her lines at the beginning to demonstrate she isn’t a stuck up convent girl, but actually wins you over by the grand finale.
As doctor who has become Matt Smith, Mangan is at all times something of himself, but a larger-than-life, loveable character.
No need for the complex FX, pacey edits and smutty faceless bitches of Hollywood. Just good, old-fashioned telly, the way it should be.
Talking of old-fashioned, I wish Shameless (Tuesdays 10pm, Channel 4), would go back to its roots. What, oh what have they DONE?! Let the creator, Paul Abbott, take an exec role and let some shabby, quick-fix, cheap-thrill writers destroy the immaculate world that was the Chatsworth estate.
“‘There are thousands of episodes left. I’ve never once felt short of stories to fill a series. Not once,” says Abbott in an interview. An article in the Guardian says,
He is proud of having mentored a long line of newcomers who now write the show he calls “The Waltons on acid”, although he still storylines the series and ensures it remains true to the original vision. “I was insistent that we didn’t corrupt the Shameless format just for the sake of presenting a five-day spectacle”
We are not convinced, and he’s taking it to america….
Telly fan I may not traditionally have been, but back in the days when I only had replays on my laptop, I proceeded to watch every single episode that ever existed, (92), when I returned from India craving some sensible culture.
So much so, that when two tramps stopped me in the street in my kickboxing gear and asked me for the time, I raised myself on my back legs and sneered ‘do I LOOK like I’ve got the FUCKING time?!’ before scurrying sheepishly into co-op. So I feel authorised to comment on its demise.
Series 6, Episode 16 saw Shameless at its height, the opening sequence blowing me away so much that I successfully convinced even the harshest critic to watch.
But watch I shall no more. Not even if they decide to pump out one episode every night for the promo week in an attempt to get us hooked. Quantity will always lose.
Shameless‘ beauty was always that it gave the ‘scum’ – those that we love to hate – a sharp intelligence. This has been confisctaed from them, along with any trace of a good storyline.
Not only did the original writer jump ship, most of the maguires and the debonaire but immensely human debbie also departed at various points. I am pretty sure they weren’t written out.
And to those who have stayed, shame on you. Monica, Frank’s flighty loose-moralled ex-wife, pops in for a paycheck. I had to cover my eyes and ears in a ‘fantasy scene’ in episode 2, where Frank is supposed to be hallucinating that he is doctor who (TRAVESTY), whilst Monica flits about in a faux-damsel demeanour. Embarassing.
Remember Ian’s lovely pob-ears and the sensitive gay storylines? Lip and Mandy’s very real, but very young, relationship? The barmy Sheila and her wonderful mothers-helpers? Karen’s insightfully portrayed madness?
No. They’ve been knocked out of us by pop drama plots only separated from the likes of eastenders by their constant and monotonous drug and sex references. In Tuesday’s episode, the writers kindly choose to insert a muslim being slapped about the chops and accused of controversial crimes, then quickly cut to an arbitrary scene between two cantankerous old biddies having a mobility-scooter-off. Yes,every time I look at Lillian I laugh, but no comment thereafter on the previous scene harbours a flippant, political shambles. This is irresponsible.
How dare they ride on the back of their former stallion by exploiting sensitive and important agendas, just for kicks.
The one C-word saviour for me is the perfectly formed Carl. I wish he’d take his shirt off more often, and not only just to snivel ‘jermie! Jermie’! Ner…! It weren’t me!’
Shameless, be ashamed, the world has gone silent on you…..
And lastly, to triumphantly top off my viewing pleasure, I implore you to go and see Blue Valentine. Having not gone to the pictures in nigh-on a year, I was doubtful that my 4 o’clock-on-a-Monday date would reach the heights of my cut-throat filmic expectations.
I love film so much that I cannot bear to watch shite, (the hairy fella in the talkie-shop since recommended Two Lovers, which was a pain to watch and has put me off Joaquin Phoenix for life – lucky for him).
Blue Valentine is anything but. The flawless actors, Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, whack their weight behind the captivating and truth-packed script by exec producing.
The story of the end of a relationship is one we can all relate to, and if we can’t, the soul-stripping emotions conjered effortlessly by the dynamic chemistry between the unloved is enough to wish your relationship to never end, but to understand eternally how it could…
The beauty of the film is in its subtlety:- it doesn’t feel the need to state what happened, when, why, how. Names, places, moronic popcorn-chasing details, are not important, and whether flashing-back or in the present, the electric tension between the protagonists is unfaltered. Wonderful sex scenes that make you want to pay.
Empathy turns you schizoid from minute to minute, as both sides of the partnership point out the unspoken complexity of loveship, and the waning nature of blame.
The feeling that when it’s over, it’s over, what’s done is done, and there’s nothing the universe can do about it. It brings a tear to the eye, and a fresh to your own half-healed wounds.
My fucking brilliant valentine is an immaculately casted, talent-packed observation of what it is to take a chance on another, how it is to be intrinsically bound with them, and tempestuously torn apart.