Really, The Guardian’s Organ Grinder is the place to go if you want to keep up with the highs and lows of television in the UK. I didn’t even know the lovely Sharon had a television chat show all of her own. Never mind that it started earlier tonight.
Martin, the second contestant looking for love, looks terrified. Ooh, he hugs Sharon, the cheeky monkey! Hope Ozzy’s not watching. He’s probably in bed. The third love wannabe, Mariola, is giant! Give that woman her own show! [Cue Sharon! from Guardian Unlimited: Organ Grinder]
It’s making me wish I was at home in front of the box right now. But I am not, I am in Oslo and I haven’t even switched the television on yet.
On this day…
2006: Big Pink Crosses (or some such TV nonsense)
2006: In The Air Again
Occasionally you are required to browse the information super-highway for things related to work. And, more often than not, on that journey you get side tracked by something in the way. A little like driving to Abergavenny and being stuck behind a caravan for most of the time on the A40. Which is interesting as I suspect that caravan owners are the biggest group of people to complain to the BBC about Top Gear. And it is the fact that, according to Ofcom, Top Gear is the 20th most complained about show on TV that stopped me in my tracks today. The BBC has – apparently – been forced to make a statement, “We acknowledge some viewers do not appreciate the Top Gear team’s sense of humour but their provocative comments are an integral part of the programme and are not intended to be taken seriously,” [Top Gear: 0 to offensive in 6.5 seconds from Guardian Unlimited: Organ Grinder] said Auntie.
The thing is I, John Plunkett (who wrote the article for The Guardian’s website) and, I guess, millions of others love watching three blokes talking about cars on the telly. And I am not interested in cars that much. I’m not sure Jeremy Clarkson and I would get on very well (mainly because I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing at him) but that doesn’t stop me enjoying every word that he speaks. Richard Hammond is, of course, there to be both amusing and the totty to watch. And then there’s James May. You couldn’t have Top Gear without him but one of the great mysteries is why not. Ultimately, I love the banter between the presenters more than anything else. Except the bits about racing fast cars. I like that too.
I am not surprised so many people complain. It’s often rude, politically incorrect and responsible for a large part of the hole in the ozone layer. It’s also funny, self-deprectaing and addictive television. It is, also, television made with passion. And that’s what makes it stand head and shoulders above much of the dross on the box at the moment. When somebody loves what they do, how can that enthusiasm not be infectious? Sunday nights. BBC2.
On this day…
2002: The Taxi Cometh
I am so sad right now. The Catherine Tate show (which follows Extras on BBC2 on Thursday nights) has just come to the end of it’s pitifully short run. It’s by far the best comedy sketch show there has been for a long, long time. I love all the characters but the ‘I d’know’ couple make me laugh before they open their mouths. Foul-mouth Gran, Lauren (Am I bothered? Am I bothered though?) and Derek (How Very Dare You) just make me smile the whole time. What a shame this is ending. Please, BBC bring it back soon.
UPDATE 30 August: Amazon have the Catherine Tate Show Series One DVD on sale now.
On this day…
2003: Naked Valley Money
2002: Not Hilarious or Surprising
On Monday I mentioned that I’m already hooked on Channel Four’s Lost (via the E4 showings a week ahead). While Sunday night’s Lost marathon was gripping it has to be said that Monday night’s can also be enjoyable. I have been finding Living TV’s Boston Legal superb. William Shatner is a revelation to me in that show. I find the quirky humour very appealing indeed. If you haven’t seen it catch it Monday’s at 10pm (repeated Friday’s at the same time). [Living TV site]
On this day…
2004: Flash Floods
2004: Should I Mention The Olympics?
2003: Great Yarmouth
2002: In Short, Things Are Grim
So last night we settled down for a Lost marathon. It started earlier in the week on Channel Four but we missed the opening episodes. Digital channel E4‘s Second Chance Sunday was not only showing the first two episodes again but also the third and so three hours of television drama ended our weekend. I am already hooked – it’s going to twenty weeks of really high quality drama ahead. There’s been losts of talk about the most expensive television pilot in history and the such. Each episode has been compared to a movie. I don’t know about that but I know that’s it appears very well written, well acted and has very high production values. I also know there is mutch content on the web about the show and I am not going to read it. I am going to let the story unfold naturally (so don’t tell me) but the first question has to be: how did any of them survive and how have they got three episodes in without worrying about food?
On this day…
2004: Kill Bill (Volume 1)
2003: Disappointing Frustrating
2002: On The Town
The Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue is currently home to a production of Festen, David Eldridges adaptation of the cult film by Thomas Vinterberg The play, directed by Rufus Norris, no longer had the original cast but I don’t think that matters: it’s a stunning piece of theatre.
thisistheatre.com sums it up well: Patriarch Helge Klingenfelt is celebrating his 60th birthday with his family at a magnificent old hotel in the Danish countryside. Gathered together are his loyal wife Elsa, his daughter Helene, and sons Christian and Michael. As the evening progresses Christian feels compelled to break the silence surrounding a dark family secret. The effect is explosive and sets the tone for a celebration no-one will forget! [Source]
I don’t really want to give the plot away any more but you can read a little more at The Independent’s review (and some non plot-spoiling reviewer’s comments at the Festen site). Regardless, it’s a powerful piece of work with some excellent acting. It’s hard to pick anybody out but Stephen Moore (Helge), Paul Nicholls (Christian) and Lisa Palfrey (Helene) are just three of the wonderful performances.
Credit must also be given to designer Ian MacNeil and all the others involved in the staging of this work. It’s simple, yet stunningly effective, set is a wonder. The stark, dark stage that opens the play hides some very clever set work.
As it appears only to be running until the start of May I would advise you to go now! thisistheatre.com has tickets.
On this day…
2003: Fries and Fredom
Following up on my previous review of The Producers, I’ve had a little more time to think about it and earlier I posted this to Gay Boy Musicals Fans UK at Yahoo!
Having read the positive reader comments on the BBC’s story about The Producers I suspect I may be a lone voice in expressing a little (and just a little) disappointment. I hadn’t read many reviews but I did know about the reception it had received in the US and the praise heaped on Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick.
I haven’t seen the film which, judging by the number of people sitting around me who had, means I was possibly one of only a small number of people in the audience who hadn’t. I wonder if that made a difference?
I saw it a week or so ago and it was good but not as good as all the raving would imply. While Nathan Lane’s talent, comic timing and performance cannot be faulted I did find weaknesses in the show. I thought some of the musical numbers in the middle were slow and the Ulla character was not engaging at all – in fact she was positively irritating. James Dreyfuss was camp (which, I guess, is the intention) but in that 1970s OTT cringe worthy way. Humour is, of course, personal and subjective, but I found it only amusing and not
laugh-out-loud funny as many of the reviews suggest.
Still, I would take issue with the review of Lee Evans’ performance which says ‘he just about holds his own’. I would argue that he did far more than that. He too was excellent, believable & humorous and while I’ve never been a big fan of his stage antics he worked well in the role. In fact, for me, he worked so well I can’t imagine Broderick in the role.
I will, however, recommend the show because it stands out from much of the rest of the West End right now – it is good. It’s has some wonderful comedy and delightful musical moments. But the sum of those individual moments does not, in my opinion, add up to a great whole. I
even bought the soundtrack in the hope that familiarity with the songs will make me warm to more of them.
Maybe it’s just me.
On this day…
2004: The Point Of Art?
2003: Flight Time Thinking
I went to see a preview of the London version of The Producers today and was, like last night, a little taken by surprise. This time, however, it’s with disappointment and not pleasure. I’ve been talking to PY and trying to explain my disappointment but he doesn’t get it: he loved the show. I did not know the plot nor had I seen the film so I wasn’t let down by the story but I had read that Nathan Lane had taken Broadway by storm.
You can’t fault Nathan Lane: he’s superb and his comic timing is excellent. Lee Evans seems born for his role as the sidekick Leo Bloom and some of the songs are great. Others, however, seem weak and parts of the story are just not engaging. James Dreyfus camps it up John Inman style while Ulla, the Swedish blond bombshell, is so lost in the stereotype that any humour is lost.
Don’t get me wong, it is a good show. I can’t imagine Richard Dreyfuss in it and I imagine it will be hard to replace Nathan Lane in January. If you’re going to see it I would suggest trying to get tickets now because without Lane’s superb performance I am not sure where this show will go. The fact that it is one of the better shows on the West End right now possibly says more about the other shows.
Sadly, The Producers disappointed.
UPDATE: Well, the reviews are out and I may be a lone voice expressing disappointment. I wrote an updated review for the Yahoo Group: Gay Boy Musicals Fans UK (which you can read here if you’re not a member of the group).
On this day…
2003: The gay team
I went to see A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum tonight and it took me a little by surprise. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I was thoroughly entertained. From the opening, A Comedy Tonight, you feel yourself pulled along by the way the cast at The National seem to be enjoying themselves. It’s a high camp farce set in Roman times featuring double entendres and mistaken identity by the bucket load (you almost expect a vicar to appear from a cupboard) but it’s joyful and not at all cringe-worthy as many farces are. Sondheim’s music isn’t the best you will ever hear (in fact, much of it isn’t memorable) but during the performance it’s entertaining. Such a shame it is coming to the end of it’s run. I discovered a US version of the soundtrack featuring Nathan Lane which ties in nicely with tomorrow – more then.
On this day…
2005: Gay Life Is More Fun: Official
2003: Side Bar Dermot
2003: Queer Eye?
2002: The World May Not Revolve Around Me
I have to quickly post that I saw Billy Connolly tonight at The Hammersmith Odeon and, despite some recent newspaper comments, I have to say I have never laughed so much or so hard. Of course, I can’t actually remember any of the jokes but I will remember this feeling of joy for a very long time. If you get the chance you really should go and see him.
Of course if you want an alternative view read what The Times said this morning, although I imagine nobody else in tonight’s audience would agree:
He has become a frightful bully, willing to address only the converted and noticeably absent when its his turn to be on the receiving end. Connolly has become the patron saint of the truly humourless, one who is little more than three years shy of retirement age. Don’t you wish that, like the fanatics of Baghdad, hed just hurry up and get on with it?
Well, he still made me laugh.
On this day…
2003: CD or not to CD?
2002: Community of UK Webloggers