Tag Archives: ITV

Scott & Bailey – Episode 3

13 Jun

This week’s S&B  was fantastic. The story has cranked up a notch, it’s faster paced and had a strong message. Yes, I might have been a bit slow in taking three episodes to get it, but this show is resolutely feminist. It might have been a bit heavy-handed this week (but apparently some of us – me – need that to truly get it) but in the same week as Slutwalks in London, culturally ingrained misogyny is still a BIG issue.

Suranne Jones continues to deliver with her deftly-arched-eyebrow acting and I was pleased to see a bit of fire from Scott this week too. Plus, who knew philandering Nick was such a nasty bastard?

This series is swiftly become a favourite and -dare I say it – preferable to a messy Case Histories. In fact, the only thing wrong with S&B is not enough topless Jason Isaacs. But you can’t have everything.

Scott & Bailey

12 Jun

The new Sugababes line up also performed at funerals

A grower, this. The first episode was a bit slow and obvious, but once the premise had been introduced, characters explored and central plot set up, this series began to hit its stride.

Frankly, there’s nothing for me not to love about Suranne Jones and a Manchester setting (although she also did spiffingly in outer space), so I had high hopes, but they are gradually being met.

Here, as in the best detective dramas, the crimes and crims take a backseat to the emotional arcs of the protagonists and serve to push forward plot points. Plus, the writing is pretty good – graphic descriptions of abortion are not friendly fodder for cosy Sunday evening drama, but are crucial in making the characters seem like real people.

I’m looking forward to this week’s episode and hoping they keep up the good work. What are your thoughts?

Downton Abbey – Episode 6

1 Nov

I can’t believe we are coming to the end of Downton Abbey. Thank goodness another series has been commissioned. I can’t imagine my Sunday nights without it.

The pace is picking up this week as we arrive in May 1914. News of Mary’s illicit night-time activities with the exotic Mr Pamuk has reached London (care of Edith) and it is becoming essential that she finds a husband before her reputation is ruined. For reasons unknown, Matthew Crawley volunteers to spend the rest of his life with her, but she is unsure about committing to him without telling him of her frightful behaviour. It’s enough to make you feel sorry for the girl! Almost. She is still so horrid to her sisters, it’s hard to feel much sympathy for her.

Hurrah for Edith paving her way into Sir Anthony Strallan’s heart. Even though she might have ruined Mary’s life, she is one of the more likeable of the family.Someone else worth cheering for is the hapless Daisy. It’s about time someone other than Bates stood up to the diptych of evil. Maybe when William returns from visiting his ill mother (aw) he can finally get it together with Daisy. I would settle for that, if Anna and Bates can’t work it out.

Once again, the Dowager Countess stole the best line of the episode:

‘We’ll just have to take Mary abroad. In these moments, one can normally find an Italian who isn’t too picky…’

I’m enjoying the shifting relationship between Violet and her daughter-in-law. They are coming to realise they must rely on each other as the world changes around them. Julian Fellowes is adept at portraying the camaraderie of the older women while demonstrating the new vision of sisterhood as evidenced by Sybil’s political engagement. It sets the scene nicely for the inevitable drought of men as war comes to Downton.

We only have a short wait before we find out whether all is resolved or not. I hope some ends are tied up as this series finishes, but with plenty left loose to leave us fans in a state of tense anticipation as we await the new series.

The X Factor – Week Four

1 Nov

I take back (nearly) everything I previously said about Cher Lloyd. Her version of Stay on Saturday night left me ‘tweetless’ for the first time in a while. It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t as good as the original. But it was very impressive and showcased the talent she has that has been lacking in previous weeks.

At this point I am pretty convinced Rebecca could win it this year. Her rendition of Wicked Game was another stormer and it seems she can do no wrong. True, she has a severe case of the Leonas (stunning voice, no personality whatsoever), but she is outshining most of the other contestants on a regular basis.

Aiden did his usual psychotic thing, Matt sang a woman’s song and Paije underwhelmed. Dannii might not have it as sewn up as she had originally thought. She’s still looking good though and I actually agree with her most out of the judges this year. Either she’s softened as a result of becoming a momma, or I have (not because of childbirth in my case though, I’ll blame my age instead). Looking fierce, girl.

Simon is left with just one act in the show after Belle Amie (rightly) got the boot on Sunday. He’s surely safe for a while with One Direction though. Whose idea was it to make them up as Edward Cullen this week? Boyband + Twilight = £££££££££ from the teeny bopper market. Bravo Cowell, you evil genius.

Thank goodness we’ve had our first DEADLOCK, although I reckon Louis only went there to add a bit of drama to proceedings. Katie should be scared though, our patience wore thin with Christina Aguilera when she did the cutesy-pie vintage schtick, and at least she had the voice to back it up.

Mary was alright, a good opener, but I wasn’t overawed. I tire of watching Wagner’s mid-life crisis – at least Jedward were funny and not desperate. He’s got to be on the chopping block sooner rather than later. Treyc dodged a bullet this week: her song choice was weak, performance was lacklustre, and she’s becoming forgettable. Plus we already have Alexandra Burke. We neither need NOR want another one.

Jamiroquai was an odd choice for the Sunday night show – and clearly displayed his distaste for the show. A bit of a waste of a booking, it seemed to me. Bon Jovi was also clearly wishing they weren’t contractually obliged to appear on a talent show; I don’t blame them, I wouldn’t want to share a stage with most of the contestants and I’m not even one of the world’s biggest bands.

Rihanna, on the other hand, blew me away with her Gagaesque performance. The song is top (I even downloaded it after) but it was the theatrical edge that showed the wannabes what a real pop star looks like.

Please do leave a comment if you agree with my ramblings – or if you think I’m a witch who needs to accept how great Katie is (this seems unlikely).

Downton Abbey – Episode 5

25 Oct

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“I must have said it wrong then.”

The Downton Flower Show was the main event in this week’s installment of everyone’s favourite Sunday night comfort blanket. Mrs Crawley locked horns with cousin Violet over the latter’s frequent wins at the contest. It was touching to have even a glimpse of evidence that the Dowager has a heart as she handed over the trophy to Molesley. Or was it more of a defeatist sentiment? As I’ve noted before, Downton Abbey is all about the movements towards modernity, away from the feudal system so beloved by our dear Dowager.

Staying Upstairs, Ladies Mary and Sybil were fighting over the affections of Matthew Crawley. I must admit, I’m a fan of the turn Edith has taken – that lingering view on the letter addressed to the Turkish ambassador can only contain bad news for Mary. Good for her (Edith that is), I say. Mary is a nasty piece of work and despite occasional demonstrations of human emotion, she is clearly a bitch with no soul. So she’s perfect to take up the Dowager’s title. If only she could.

Sybil is also beginning to make an impression – just as it seems we may lose her (if next week’s trailer is anything to go by). I hope it is only a minor mishap and that she doesn’t give up on this new-fangled feminism lark. Gwen needs her help, after all, to secure work somewhere other than the crumbling Abbey.

I use the word crumbling as it is clear things are starting to fall apart. Mrs Patmore is going blind, the gruesome twosome (Thomas and O’Brien) are losing their grip on the others and Anna is abandoning all sense of propiety and declaring her love for Bates.

I’ll admit, I loved that last one. Although I feel there’s something a bit wrong about that, as it’s not the most obviously suitable relationship, but it is the sweetest one. It’s very real too, with feelings that have developed over time and been allowed to mellow. It remains to be seen what happens there and whether we will see more of it next series but I live in hope.

Viv Groskop has written a great piece about the appeal of the Abbey here. I suggest you read it.

The X Factor – Week Three

25 Oct

Were you watching CherylTV this weekend? Not content with TWO X Factor shows, performing her new single on one of said shows,  a repetitive whirl of cosmetic adverts, and Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, the Nation’s Sweetheart (because we’ve all forgotten the toilet attendant thing) also dominated the hairdos of her X contestants.

Rebecca went way out of her comfort zone and sang a sultry number in a husky voice. Oh, but wait, it was “something different” because she looked a little bit like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Treyc (not a real name) also rocked a red streak and as for Cher…well, the less said about that monstrosity the better. Katie managed to escape Cheryl’s scarlet grasp somehow, but she was duly punished with an awful song choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of old school Disney jazz as much as, if not more than, the next person. But X Factor is neither the time nor place. Nor is it a guilty pleasure.

Honestly, why do they even bother with themes any more? In SyCo world, Chaka Khan, Led Zeppelin, Shirley Bassey are guilty pleasures. Never mind Britney – oh, ok Travis:

Matt really made it his own didn’t he?

At least Wagner got to awkwardly shout along to the Spice Girls and Ricky Martin (but just one of the songs would have sufficed, I am not a fan of the lazy mash ups this year).

John definitely deserved to go over Treyc, especially after his horrific rendition of Because Of You. I agree with Simon though that Louis completely mismanaged him and put him in the usual Radio Incontinence box he likes to put most of his acts in. It’s enough to make you miss Jedward.

I found it all a bit dull and predictable this week, and not for the first time. Maybe I’m suffering from X Fatigue or maybe I have other things on my plate this year, but I’m just not loving it. Hopefully once more of the chaff has gone I’ll get properly into it.

Don’t forget to check out Matt Edmondson’s brilliant F Factor here.

Downton Abbey – Episode 4

18 Oct

“One can’t go to pieces at the death of every foreigner. We’d all be in a state of collapse whenever we opened a newspaper.”

Great news came in last week as the show has been commissioned for a second series. Hurrah! I just hope it is warranted, and not another Sex And The City 2 shambles.

Onto this week’s episode. Now, I don’t want to labour the point, but Dame Maggie Smith is sublime in Downton Abbey. Put that in your pipe and smoke it Rachel Cooke. Violet had me quite literally LOLing last night as I tucked into the latest installment of my new favourite show.

Good old Mr Bates, coming down (ooh-er) on Thomas like that. He’s a nasty piece of work and it was heartening to see someone stand up to him, even if it was a little shocking. I loved Mrs Patmore groping for an explanation for Thomas’ behaviour to naive Daisy. She doesn’t deserve nice William anyway, silly girl.

It was good to learn more about Mrs Hughes’ past, but you already knew what decision she would make. Our knowledge of the historical events to come add a bittersweetness to her fierce loyalty to the Abbey and the family.

Indeed, I am looking forward to see how the series progresses as the shift to modernity becomes ever more apparent, with the arrival of the socialist chauffeur and feminism in the shape of some rather natty (and so 2010) harem pants.

The Mrs Crawley/Dowager spats look set to ensue (a Harry Hill fight in the making, non?), the Mary/Crawley romance will surely blossom and hopefully Thomas will get his comeuppance for being so ruddy horrible. That, and so much more awaits us Downtonians. You know where to find me at 9pm on a Sunday.

The X Factor – Week Two

18 Oct

This week’s theme was Musical Heroes. Who’s yours? Kelly Clarkson? Bruno Mars? Duck Sauce (Ok, I’ll let that one slide because of the brilliant reference to Louis)?!

Why are they even bothering to pretend that they are adhering to the themes? This angered me more than the sadly premature loss of Diva Fever.

Storm, on the other hand, was sure to go. Call it the ‘sing-first-leave-first’ curse or the ‘most-annoying-act-except-for-Katie-oh-and-Cher-because-they’re-Cheryl’s-and-will-stay-in-whatever-happens’ curse – he was the obvious evictee.

Katy Perry and Diana Vickers were the star performers on Sunday’s show. Neither were good – very much a case of style over substance, so I’m sure Dannii was thrilled.

Also keen on the ‘look’ of things rather than anything possibly lying behind it is Cher. I can’t be the only one tiring of her street urchin on acid schtick. Rebecca, on the other hand, is beginning to convince me that there is more than a touch of the downtrodden single ma to her – I loved her version of Feeling Good and thought she looked pretty fierce. You go girl etc.

Matt, Paige and Aiden were all dull as Louis’ new hair colour, so I won’t bother with them.

Tesco Mary (as she will forever be known) was pretty good, as was to be expected. Is it really true about her and Wagner? I’d ask Louis but he wouldn’t know who I was talking about, unless I mispronounced the name too, obviously.

John will leave next week, unless Louis does something incredible and actually picks a good song for him to sing. Everyone else was either rubbish or forgettable. I’m hoping the contestants will get a bit more interesting next week, but I’m not counting on it.

In more exciting news, Matt Edmondson is BACK with the ludicrously funny and new and improved F Factor vlog. Make sure you set aside 10 minutes to watch it here.

Don’t be Down on Downton

13 Oct

In this week’s issue of New Statesman, Rachel Cooke (who I am generally a fan of, and in agreement with) writes about the inane predictability of Downton Abbey and wonders at the popularity of a programme that reinforces old class systems.

Surely that is the joy of it? I won’t deny that class boundaries are still very much an issue and the idea of ‘social mobility’ (to quote the political spin) is just as pressing now as in the early 20th century, but Downton demonstrates the shifts in social structure that have led to a less rigid society.

Set in 1912, it portrays the clashes between the old way and the new. Not just socially speaking of course, but also between the generations, nationalities (the English, American and even Turks got a look in this week) and those from the ‘old world’, such as the Dowager, and those fresh from the industrial revolution, as the Crawleys are. To argue that the show is politically out of step is to analyse only the surface.

Cooke’s argument that it is predictable is an even easier criticism to swat. It’s a period drama. It’s meant to be comforting, cosy and easy to digest – much like hot chocolate. Yes, it was clear from the get-go that Thomas played for the other team; it’s all part of the language of a period drama. Just as soaps must include steamy affairs and comedy panel shows must have at least one ‘outrageous’ star, period dramas carry certain tropes that entertain their audience, and hidden homosexuality is one of them.

My final beef with Cooke’s piece was this: she claimed that Maggie Smith was woefully miscast as the Dowager. Considering Julian Fellowes wrote the piece especially for her, this is a tough assertion. It’s simply not true. No one can deliver a withering putdown disguised as a compliment quite so well as this Dame. What’s more, I am certain that as the series develops we will see another side to the Dowager. I’m not expecting hugs and counselling sessions, but as more lives are upheaved in Downton, I think it is safe to say that she will find reason enough to cut back on her sharp tongue.

I only hope that doesn’t come too soon.

 

No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house

11 Oct

*Includes spoilers*

Downton Abbey is really hitting its stride now and is proving to be the perfect Sunday night fare. We’re getting to know the characters better and the pace has picked up. A sex scandal always helps in these situations.

This week’s episode was a tad farcical, perhaps, but I loved it. I didn’t see the death coming (as it were) and was pleased the programme – which has been fairly predictable (in a good way) so far – managed to surprise me.

The period detail is glorious; it was nice to finally have the ‘lingering glances on horseback’ scene so beloved of the genre. I hope more is shown of the lush landscape surrounding Downton in future episodes.

I am loving the developing relationship between Thomas and his hag O’ Brien, which looks set to get juicier next week. She’s a mean old bitch with a face like she’s sucking lemons….God, I love her.

Not as much as I love the Dowager though, who continues to get the best lines (she is Maggie Smith though, so it is only to be expected). I hope she and Mrs Crawley have another showdown soon.

As is rapidly becoming customary, an aural and visual treat, in case you missed Harry Hill’s TV Burp at the weekend.