It wasn’t my week, I watched a complete episode of the seventh series of Shameless, expecting to see Mrs. Doyle, of Father Ted fame, cavorting naked with Fran, the shameless, or should that be shameful, one. No, didn’t get to see Pauline McGlynn at all, at all and it kinda takes the gloss off the excitement when you see that Frank, played by David Threlfall, actually directs episodes. It’s so rude, crude, crazy and vulgar, that it’s no wonder it survives in late night limbo.
Then there was Amanda Holden in Fantasy Lives, a snazzy wannabe show where, this time, she wanted to dance as a leggy Parisien – Oooh La La! Yerra! She got tired posing, got sore legs and went off to buy shoes from the same shop that Kylie, or was it Dannii, buys shows. Fantasy Talent, indeed!
John Sullivan, who wrote the wonderful, Only Fools And Horses, did a prequel for BBC1 – Rock & Chips – set in the sixties, where young Del Trotter larks about with his mates, soon to be, famous characters on television. It’s that knowing attitude, that catches the attention but it’s not particularly funny and more kitchen sink drama. A great touch was to have the original Rodney as played by Nicholas Lyndhurst, as a sleeze-ball petty criminal who seduces Mrs. Trotter and fathers the baby Rodney, ensuring they get a tower block apartment.
Too many misfits for my liking but the period attention to detail is impressive. Ms. Trotter, as played so well by Kellie Bright, is excellent in that kitchen sink, world weary, way and she slaves away to satisfy her no-good husband, the dosser Reg and his neer-do-well dad. Lots of knowing cameos like Robert Dawes, as a pervy boss of the cinema that shows Brigette Bardot movies but I needed more Del Boy to make this once-off drama ring up the sales for me.
RTE1 say the one-off episode of Brendan O’Carroll’s – Mrs. Brown’s Boys – is a pilot show, but on the City Channel, he says it’s part of a series. Whatever, it was great fun and took ideas from his excellent stage shows and gave them a televisual life. O’Carroll has the comedy touch, he knows what people want and there’s no bog standard puppets for him; when he wants to explite, he excretes with a vengeance. Rock on Brendan. With him you know what you’re going to get, and it comes wrapped up in many sentiment, all tearful one minute then Wham! You feel sorry for having feelings.
Roll on the series, probably extracts from his videos. I loved the mayhem when he sits in a pub set, and forgets something, so he ups and goes across the house-set and the camera pulls back to show you the set up. Fair City . . . eat your liver out!
There was no comic moments in the raw, terrible story of the wife of Nelson Mandela, the South African legend and freedom prisoner. It was as grim as BBC4 docudrama can be and at times the depicted mental and awful physical cruelty of a white supremacist regime, was hard to watch with David Morrissey as the cruel police investigator. Sophie Okonedo, who has one of the saddest faces on television, was powerful as the strong-on-the-outside, Winnie Mandela, and at times she was treated, as were her children, more harshly than her imprisoned husband.
It is so hard to accept that these awful inhuman things happened in the lifetime and memory of many viewers. It was filmed in Soweto, where much of the history of South African freedom festered and pestered a totalitarian state. Bit by bit, the world press picked up the story but it was still a harrowing drama to watch.
There’s a new series of the award winning show, Mad Men, but they seem to have gone all pretentious and fashion conscious. One episode seemed to feature different styles of dress with characters preening in the mirror men and women. The number of scenes, where people look into mirrors, like the ad woman trying to make it in a male-centred world, she looked at her dressing gown, then her night dress and then she stacked away underwear to dry. Then the men had to work Sunday so they dressed down to casuals and smoked pot while their bosses go dickied up for a garden party in almost slow-motion. What was it all about?
Now that John Nettles is to retire, the return of Midsomer Murders has to be savoured and enjoyed, even if it is the old tosh it always was – even the murders are gentle, it seems. I know the series will run for years on digital channels and ITV will have to decide if they keep the brand name like in Taggart, or get another actor to play the part. The recent new series was that old fashioned posh codgers in a stately home, sipping posh spirits and hiding family skeletons in the stables or in the woods. Even when the evidence is kept on a laptop, you don’t quite believe it.