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.)
After publicly identifying the “Now, If You’ll Excuse Me, Inspector” moment in ITV’s Lewis on last week’s Telly Addict – in which arrogant Oxford academics rudely make excuses and walk away from Lewis when he’s investigating them about a murder – I have three more prime NIYEMIs on this week’s. I also return to Utopia on C4 to see how it’s getting on after the first rush of blood; give the pilot episode of Fox/Sky Atlantic’s serial killer-based thriller The Following a chance; sigh heavily at the lack of jeopardy on the otherwise well-intentioned Great Comic Relief Bake Off on BBC2; and give a preview of my promised review of Louie on Fox. And another look at the mesmerising ITV logo.
Having failed to mark this year’s 30th anniversary of the launch of Channel 4, Telly Addict compensates by featuring two shows that ended last week in fine style: the second series of Fresh Meat, which has long since left the description “sitcom” behind, and the one-off four parter Secret State, which dragged A Very British Coup into our current, centre-everything age of corporate takeover. There’s a throw-ahead to C4′s next big thing, The Fear, which of course started last night, after we’d recorded Telly Addict, and thus will be dealt with next week. And Michael Portillo’s charming Great Continental Railway Journeys on BBC2, because not everything can be Channel Swore (as the papers branded it, 30 years ago).
In this week’s Telly Addict, I sign off on season three of Downton Abbey on ITV1; ask what kind of coup Secret State on C4 is; finally take my medicine with Getting On on BBC4; and sneak a look at a young person’s comedy that isn’t aimed at me, Some Girls, on BBC3. (We apologise for the late arrival this blog alert; I’ve been on a train from Manchester with what can only be described as intermittent wi-fi.)
Nice little grab of the Capitol building there, but nothing to do with today’s US Presidential Election. Rather, while negotiating the minefield of spoilers, this week’s Telly Addict tries to discuss the other burning question, “Has Homeland jumped the shark or not?”; also, a horror double-bill from Halloween week, the gothic return of American Horror Story to FX, and BBC4′s Horror Europa with Mark Gatiss; just enough time, too, to consider another rare US drama import – this time from the History Channel – that’s showing on terrestrial television over here: post-Civil War feud saga Hatfields & McCoys, on Channel Five. (I have finally caught up with hospital comedy-drama Getting On, by the way, and I’ll be reviewing that next week.)
Second Tuesday morning Telly Addict, which means I’m catching up on last Tuesday’s Great British Bake Off Final on BBC2 (there will be spoilers – deal with it); plus Friday Night Dinner, which started again three weeks ago on C4 on the wrong night; the penultimate, Leveson-style The Thick Of It, with its excellent Guardian joke, on BBC2; and a one-off C4 documentary with a title that makes it sound less subtle and tender than it actually was, My Tattoo Addiction. (Funnily enough, the programme’s producer alerted me to it via Twitter, but if I hadn’t have liked it, I would have just quietly ignored it. You have to admire him for direct marketing.)
This is confusing. The most recent Telly Addict went live on Friday afternoon. And here’s a new one? Already? Yes, the people upstairs at the Guardian have decided to spread out their video content across the week, so that it doesn’t bottleneck at the weekends. We negotiated Monday as a new write-and-record date, with a view to “publishing” on a Tuesday morning at around 10am. This will hopefully give us a better chance of being picked up and, even better, viewed. (User numbers predictably drop off at weekends.) Due to the “short week” (ie. the weekend), I have reviewed four comedies that are currently on – and the exquisite Hunderby on Sky Altantic, which has just finished – so, eyes down for the multi-award-winning Fresh Meat, which has returned for its second series to C4; Modern Family, whose fourth season has just started on Sky1; and Nurse Jackie, whose fourth season has just started on Sky Atlantic. If you are a Sky refusenik, then just enjoy the clips of some of the best comedy on telly at the moment, in my opinion. And put Tuesday in your diary. (The Great British Bake Off final will be reviewed then, safely after the event, so that I can actually name the winner and not enrage spoiler-alert whiners!)
Without any attempt at forcing the issue, Sesame Street or QI style, this week’s Telly Addict is brought to you by the letter “H”. Three dramas, each beginning with the same letter, and two of them beginning with the word “Home.” First, the return of Homeland to C4 for its make-or-break second season; second, a new one to ITV1, Homefront (which isn’t one word, but we’ll let it off as I liked it); and finally, Hunted on BBC1, the big-budget Transatlantic co-production that we previewed at the Edinburgh Television Festival. Oh, and a quick morsel of Bake Off, because it would be rude not to.