Posts Tagged ‘ TV ’

All Through the House: A DVD Cover Dissection

This man is glaring at his past as a spluttering posho and telling it to shut up. That past is dead, probably of lupus. This is his life now: looking angry all the time, putting people in their place in a croaky American drawl, and just barely dealing with the implausibly complex illnesses of an endless series of ungrateful patients with personal problems even worse than his own. When he’s not doing that he’s appearing on the DVD covers for his TV show, named after himself: House, or as the DVDs themselves insist on calling it, House M.D. (I believe this is to reassure people unfamiliar with the show that this is a medical drama, not a show about a bunch of people all living together with a grumpy disabled man.)

It’s difficult to portray such a conflicted, layered character on a DVD cover, which is why they make little attempt to do so. The covers follow the standard layout (which we’ve seen before), with the main character taking up the bulk of the space, the supporting cast relegated to little thumbnails probably taken from their acting resumés, and everything else a single colour wash which means you can distinguish the various seasons at a glance. If you want to know anything about the show (all news to me really because I don’t watch it), all you have to go on is the photo of the chap in the centre. Let’s see what he’s giving away.

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Luther? More like, err, erm, I got nothing

God I love TV, I like it more than any of my own family or friends. Bloody hell I like it more than I like myself. I don’t give a fuck about the Israel-Palestine conflict, but I do care when Mad Men series 5 is going to air… Gaddafi can do what he likes as long as he doesn’t interfere with Boardwalk Empire’s production… and by all means increase tuition fees as long as it doesn’t mess with Doctor Who’s scheduling.

Like most people I favour the big-budget American shows, be they HBO or HBO-esque ones. It’s just an empirical fact that they’re better – better production, better direction, better writing, just plain better. My most recent fix was Game of Thrones, a show that combined my two passions of involving drama and unnecessarily naked women. However with that gone, and with most of the truly good shows not returning until autumn, I found myself at something of a loss. As such I turned my attention to what old Blighty had to offer in the quality drama stakes. What I discovered was Luther, one of the BBC’s most popular and high profile shows of recent months, which last Tuesday concluded its second series.

The show centres around the character of John Luther, played by The Wire’s Idris Elba, an intelligent, tough, morally unbending detective, as he hunts only the most grizzly and gratuitious of serial killers. He’s a good man in a bad world who goes outside the law to keep the law or something like that. I should establish at this point that Luther, as in the show itself, is really bad, it’s almost so bad it’s good, but it’s actually so bad it’s bad.

Luther taking a well earned rest

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‘Tis a Silly Place: Camelot

On my way to bed last night, I decided that before I turned in I would watch something that would help my brain switch off, preferably something glossy and utterly mindless. After a quick browse through iPlayer and 4od, I managed to find something so mindless I can’t even say for certain whether anyone involved in making it is technically alive. After it was over I was comatose for 14 hours.

The show I’m referring to is a brand new medieval fantasy from Starz Entertainment, the good people behind the David Starkey documentary Spartacus: Blood on the Sand (I’m kidding – it’s not actually a documentary and Starkey only briefly cameos as a mighty gladiator rutting in the background during one of the orgy scenes). Entitled Camelot, it’s a retelling of the Arthurian legend, large in scope and ‘adult’ in tone. Everyone knows what adults do – they have sex and they swear and they hit each other with swords, and Camelot does its best to faithfully represent this behaviour, whether or not it’s appropriate or makes any dramatic sense. Continue reading

Fat Tony: MTV does Skins

You know what I’m sick of? British TV shows. The budget is small, they run for about 3 episodes a season and get cancelled after a year and a half, the whole cast is ugly, and they all talk in completely different and equally incomprehensible accents. Sometimes the premise is good, maybe some elements of the story and the script work quite well, but by the time the credits roll (far too early – where are the commercial breaks?) I’m always left feeling a little empty. You may disagree, but I’m not alone, and I thank Christ for the producers in the United States who understand how I and others like me feel. If they spot a grain of potential in Britain’s television output, do they lazily just take it and screen it overseas to a new audience? Of course not. They realise what a hopelessly cheap and unattractive product they have on their hands, compared to their native shows, and so they decide to give it the coat of thick gloss it needs and deserves. A few million dollars down the line, British television can finally stand proud (albeit with an entirely new cast and crew), safe in the arms of a superior industry.

The latest show to be adopted, Oliver-Twist-like, by rich and successful American TV, is the Bristolian teen drama Skins. MTV acquired the rights and have been busy making their own version. Recently they released a trailer for it, giving us a pretty good look at what this new show is going to be like, and I have examined it with my laser eye of appraisal to see how good a job they did.

Did you enjoy Skins, but were annoyed that Tony wasn’t American? Did you have similar feelings about Sid, Michelle, and indeed every other character? MTV’s Skins is the show for you. Continue reading

Skins’ Condition: A Speculative Look at the Upcoming Fifth Series

 

From left to right - Alex Arnold, Dakota Blue Richards, Sean something, and blah blah blah a bunch of people no-one's heard of

 

Next year, a new series of the loud and confused teen drama Skins will stumble onto our screens, giggling and smelling unwashed. If you’re not aware of it, Skins is a bizarre show about a bunch of teenagers in Bristol and their riotous misadventures. Someone wanted to make a show about the difficulties of growing up in the modern age, with a strong emotional core, and someone else wanted to make a surreal and wild romp with slapstick humour and celebrity cameos, and they both got together and decided to reconcile their approaches by doing them both simultaneously, but turned up to 11. It should be unwatchable, but it tries so hard and it’s so enthusiastic that you can help but be swept along, like when a child shows you her 3-page story about angry goats and declares it to be her magnum opus.

Skins is so keen to remain hip and with-it that every two series it chucks out the entire cast and replaces them with younger models, mostly unknowns drawn from an open casting call. Series 5 will see the entrance of the third bunch, and speculation has been rife as to what they would be like. Now, thanks to someone’s possibly unwise decision, we know: they’ve been cast, and their pictures are up on the website, with a little voting button so people can let E4 know what they think of them. The purpose of this vote is mysterious, since they are not likely to be replaced just because some strangers don’t like their faces, but nevertheless it’s there – and unfortunately the public is not a big fan of the new cast of Skins. Only 16% of the more than 23,000 votes have been positive for the cast as whole. Displeased teens must be stifling their gag reflexes up and down the country.

Is this bunch really that unappealing? And how much can we learn from them about content of the new series? Here at The Jerk Circle we’ve given the matter some thought, and come up with our own evaluation of the new Skins cast. We disdain such crude measures as simple percentage points, so we offer a more detailed examination of their appearance, including a guess at their character’s name and what their role in the show will be. A crucial aspect of Skins characters is their home-life, which is invariably troubled and almost always involves a seasoned comic actor playing a weirdly straight role as a parent – so we’ve taken a stab at predicting that as well. Continue reading

Everybody Loves Raymond’s Face, Pt. 2

I’m exploring the many DVD covers for the various seasons of the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. For covers 1-4, see here. Continue reading

Is Mad Men really that great?

Yeah yeah, I know, it’s the best thing on TV ever, there’s so many layers, it’s the slickest thing since they were all walking in slow motion in Reservoir Dogs etc etc. But is it actually any fucking good?

I’m not denying it’s slick, I’m not denying it’s cool, I’m certainly not denying that I want to work for Sterling Cooper in the 50s, drinking whiskey in my office all day (when I’m not napping, that is), wearing sharp suits, gelling my hair and being ridonkulously sexist. But I had such high fuckin’ hopes for us* after I found out the hilariously named Sopranos writer and producer Matthew Weiner was in charge, and it just failed to live up to them. I have to admit I rather enjoyed the first episode, though that was only because my brother walked in after two minutes and I convinced him it was a murder mystery and he’d just missed the police at the crime scene, and managed to string him along until right at the end where nothing happened (for a change). Subsequent episodes only served to beg the question of why it wasn’t in fact a murder mystery, or at least why it didn’t do something to fucking liven things up a bit.

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