Finally, a review of the start of Season Three of Game Of Thrones, although this week’s Telly Addict will, of course, start looking old and off the ball again by Wednesday, when Mad Men returns to Sky Atlantic for Season Five. You’ll have to wait until next Tuesday morning for a pithy summation of that. I do recognise that not everybody had Sky Atlantic, whether for fiscal or ideological reasons, and I do my best to sidestep spoilers in my reviews of these imported classics that may not arrive on DVD for a year (and the same with the clips I choose). But it’s a cold, hard truth that we must all learn to work with: some of the best telly in the world is on Murdochvision. Also this week, on telly-for-everybody, The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC1; The Village on BBC1; and The Intern on C4. Hooray.
Since Game Of Thrones – or GoT as all the uncool kids are calling it – is the most talked-about TV show of the moment, with catch-up guides in every newspaper for those losers who haven’t been watching it from the start (we’re at Season Three for heaven’s sake – do you really have to wait for the broadsheets’ permission?), I have to confess that I’m not reviewing Game Of Thrones on this week’s Telly Addict, because, when I wrote and filmed it yesterday afternoon, the first episode hadn’t aired. (I review, not preview, as previously established.) But we do have the jolly return of Doctor Who on BBC1; Paul Hollywood’s Beard/Bread on BBC2; the latest sci-fi saga from the JJ Abrams universe, Revolution on Sky 1; an update on Broadchurch on ITV; a warm welcome for the regeneration of Foyle’s War on ITV; and a sneak preview of The Village on BBC1.
I have now, of course, watched the first episode of GoT, and it really is not for the latecomer. That’s all I’ll say. Full review next week.
As a fan of both James Nesbitt and Ireland, I was always bound to kick off this week’s Telly Addict with James Nesbitt’s Ireland on ITV, although it wasn’t quite the paradise I’d hoped for. Also, although this isn’t a request show, I had the Wyoming-set cowboy detective series Longmire on TCM recommended me to me a couple of weeks ago, and I checked it out. In order to counterbalance last week’s BBC-only Telly Addict, I went to the new Boss on More4, in which Kelsey Grammer finally emerges from the shadow of Frasier by swearing and shouting and twisting a political opponent’s ear (see: clip); tapped a toe to the impenetrable return of Treme to Sky Atlantic; and loved the second ever live episode of the otherwise flagging-a-bit 30 Rock on Comedy Central. Next week, I promise to review Paul Hollywood’s Beard on BBC2.
This week’s Telly Addict has been brought to you by Into The Woods, a bracing new book about screenwriting, with particular emphasis on the craft of storytelling for TV, by my former boss John Yorke, who produced Collins & Maconie’s first ever radio programme in 1993, Fantastic Voyage, and then became my executive producer on EastEnders some years later, and then Head of Drama at the BBC (he’s now hopped it to the private sector). Anyway, it’s published in April, I’ve been devouring a preview copy, and it currently infects the way I view TV. Henceforth, take copious notes as you view my analytical reviews of the monomythic Masterchef on BBC1; In The Flesh on BBC3; Prisoners’ Wives on BBC1; and It’s Kevin on BBC2. There is no masterplan here, they just happen to be all BBC shows. (I say there’s no masterplan, but as John’s book proves, all stories subconsciously adopt the same structure, so even Telly Addict has a quest, a midpoint, an inciting incident, a protagonist and antagonists, a prize, a resolution and a symmetry between beginning and end. Check it out.
On this week’s Telly Addict, a clash of the Kudos-produced titans: the eight-part Broadchurch on ITV and the five-part Mayday on BBC1. It’s an unfair fight, as previously established, as I’m reviewing one episode of the former (I hadn’t seen the second when I filmed this, yesterday) and the entirety of the latter, but I hope I have given both a fair crack of the whip in difficult circumstances. Also, on a lighter note: bomb disposal in Afghanistan in new BBC3 comedy Bluestone 42. And, on an actually lighter note, local government in the where-have-you-been? US legend Parks & Recreation, finally arriving on BBC4 after four years on NBC and at least that long on the lips of international comedy aficionados with Region 1 players or no compunction about illegal filesharing. (I have a Region 2 player, a vastly reduced budget for DVDs in any case, and a total aversion to illegal downloading.)
And if you missed my chin-stroking essay on Broadchurch, Mayday and the new film Broken, you may read it here. (There was a time when I was paid for writing such essays, but now I do them for free, which makes them purer, in some ways.)
Sorry for the paucity of blogs of late. As usual, it means I have been working. I’m still working. I recorded this week’s Telly Addict on Friday, as I had a backlog of TV shows to cover and I wanted to keep yesterday clear of work as it was my birthday. (So, yesterday, I wasn’t working.) And here it is, with belated coverage of Spartacus: War of The Damned on Sky1 (yes, I know I erroneously credit it to Sky Atlantic in the review – forgive me); a mid-season match report of The Walking Dead on Fox; the worst of The Oscars 2013 on Sky Living; Sue Perkins’ new BBC2 sitcom Heading Out; and ghost story Lightfields on ITV. I’m already lining up Broadchurch and Mayday for next week. It’s all go.
So much to fit in, so little Telly Addict! I know, I know, I promised to cover The Walking Dead and Spartacus: War of The Damned this week – due to popular demand from gorehounds – and I will, I will, but both long-form series have had to be “put back” to next week, to clear space for two one-offs which need to be addressed this week: surprise treat The Fried Chicken Shop on C4 and Meet The Izzards on BBC2. There’s also The Brits 2013 on ITV, with its new “serious” tone; the series finale of the magnificent Utopia on C4; and surely the best moment on The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV, like, ev-ah! You’ll see what I mean. (Oh, and I’ll do the best of Seth MacFarlane on the Oscars next week, too.)
In a packed Telly Addict this week, I attempt, within the standardised ten-minute timeframe, to review the following: the final episode of Lewis on ITV (albeit without mentioning the name of the murderer in this final two-part mystery); Louie on Fox (which I’ve allowed three weeks to “bed in” before assessing); Common Ground on Sky Atlantic (which is a series of shorts to which I have contributed – this is a diplomatic highwire act!); plus two glossy new US dramas, Nashville on More4, and Vegas on Sky Atlantic, with a quick mention of Friday Night Lights, also on Sky Atlantic and now entering what looks like a scorched-earth fourth season. Don’t say I don’t watch enough telly for you. (Incidentally, the episode of Common Ground I co-wrote with Simon Day, Colin, is on next Monday. I won’t be reviewing it.)
Last week’s Telly Addict broke box office records at the Guardian website – I believe I am right in saying that it was the most viewed of all my little, ten-minute TV reviews since April 2011. This week’s Telly Addict can only take a concomitant ratings dive, as it contains no full review of Mrs Brown’s Boys. I fully intended to assess the final episode of series three – the one with the gay wedding – on BBC1, but BBC1 forgot that it’s the most successful comedy on television and bumped the Saturday night repeat for the rugby, failing to find another home for it on any of its other BBC channels. (Let us not forget that the repeat was pulling four million viewers. Who needs ‘em, eh?) Instead – apart from a couple of spare clips from last week’s Mrs Brown’s Boys – it’s all about Dancing On The Edge, Stephen Poliakoff’s latest glacial masterpiece, on BBC2; Stewart Lee’s Alternative Comedy Experience vehicle on Comedy Central; Danny Baker’s magnificent Great Album Showdown on BBC4; and a little nod to what might be the final mystery for Lewis on ITV. Perhaps I should have reviewed the rugby. (Oh, by the way, I shall be passing judgement on Louie, belatedly, and Nashville, next week.)
I take the plunge this week on Telly Addict by watching a whole episode of Mrs Brown’s Boys on BBC1, the most successful sitcom on British television, just in time for its third hit series to end; also, back to Utopia on C4, which I can’t stop thinking about, or reviewing; and two recommendations from the Freeview universe: the second season of Suits, on Dave, and the fourth of The Good Wife on More4, both slick, glamorous, fast-talking US legal dramas, as it happens. Oh, and a definitive “Now, If You’ll Excuse Me, Inspector” from Ripper Street on BBC1.