Try as you might, it is hard to avoid football on the tele. Whether it is the disallowed English goal and all that excuse palaver or the complaints about the type of ball used, called the TSB, or as some pundits say The Stupid Ball. Despite complaints the FIFA general secretary said “FIFA is not deaf”. No wonder it drives reviewers to watch a BBC 2 series ‘How To Build A Nuclear Submarine’ and you get caught up in the statistics of a 700,000 ton machine as precision designed as a Swiss watch. Could these people not help to design a goal scoring ball?
Or you enjoy BBC4 with Vilazon the Chacka-Chacka tenor explaining the various types of tenors and the styles of voices needed. Why oh why, are such programmes so confusing? It’s like the expert chat about ball pressure, spin factors, nuclear reactors or 4-4-2 systems as against 4-3-2-1 systems. Germany hoff the ball into the others square and score, sure it’s no nuclear science or tenor arias.
Lies, sweet little lies, seem like a pundit’s excuse for a team as bad as England. So it was a pleasure to welcome back to C4 the Tim Roth series, Lie To Me, Roth is like a young, couldn’t-care-less, Jack Nicholson, Dr. Cal Lightman, who uses body language or micro-expressions to decide whether witnesses in court are lying or not. Apparently, it is based on a real psychologist, Dr Paul Erkman, in California, but it’s Roth’s cheeky grin and ‘what-the-flock’ attitude that gives this legal procedural its touch of class. The same psych stuff works brilliantly in The Mentalist.
Another plus is the obvious chemistry between Lightman and his divorced wife, Zoe Landall, who is now some sort of prosecuting lawyer. Somehow, these series just won’t survive, but this is now going into a third series, no doubt, because many other series are ended and there is speculation as to what will be ‘the next big thing’. Jennifer Beals plays Zoe Landall.
Another dubious returnee to C4 is the geeky IT crowd and it is hard to appreciate that it is filmed in front of a live audience, yet the laughter sounds more canned than real. Some of the jokes are hit and miss, but this could be a deliberate devise to ramp up the nerdiness. Like Jen says “I love culture, I’ve seen ‘We Will Rock You’ four times”. They even play a version of Dungeons and Dragons – are dragons gay? Didn’t get much of an audience laugh.
Maybe I only watch it because Graham Linehan wrote it, and that Irish actor Chris O’Dowd is in it. Richard Ayoade with the crazy hair style is such a deadpan comic too.
Gareth Malone, the eternal optimist in the world of choirs is back with a more conventional hairstyle as he again tries to bring an odd group of somewhat reluctant youths to learn to sing as a chorus in a new opera in Glyndebourne. Despite being formulaic and a little unpredictable you just find his gentle work with a very shy Kiya and the unmusical orphan Stephan, who tries so hard to fit in. You feel let down when the infuriating couldn’t-care-less, Korroll drops out to attend a tattoo festival. Malone has the right amount of support of praise or castigation!! Even his rebukes are someway positive, as he spells out options and choices and eventual consequences, as he encourages them to take responsibility for their actions. You want him to succeed and the teenagers to do better. It’s feelgood television.
BBC2 have a new holy sitcom with the unattractive name, Rev, about an alcoholic Church of England vicar/pastor who could be a bit Dibley-ish and he definitely isn’t Father Ted-ish. No way – this is gentle middleclass humour where people want to enrol their children in a church school to avoid fee paying elsewhere. Perhaps it will grow into a good series but it’s the lack of jokes that puzzles me. He is married to a solicitor, and that might raise a joke or two. Tom Hollander is the cleric who seems too innocent, too naïve, too trusting among a conniving congregation of Dibley types. The midnight scheduling suggests they’ve given up on it already – no need for last rites it seems.
Every now and again the channels advertise and hype up some couples meets other couples story and the promo hypesters are off talking the next Cold Feet, and it never is. This time BBC1 have a new series, Reunited, by Mike Bullen, who created Cold Feet and it has an odd mix of old friends and infidelities with five girls and at least four males. Loosely speaking, Hannah returns to London and selfishly gets the old gang back together again, so you need dribbles of back story and past infidelity. Ed Byrne, the Irish comedian is good as a randy Rob who bed hops like a priapic flea, and Emma Stansfield, with the upper lip pimple (beauty spot) is Mum to three kids, but is playing away at Spanish classes in bed with another predator. Episode one did most of the intros but not doubt there are lies in the duvet and surprises in the underwear. But this is cliché TV trading as nostalgia, even though the cast are familiar and top class actors.