Sherlock Holmes is all the rage these days. Of course, he's always been popular but currently we have the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes franchise in cinemas; we have the modernised BBC Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman; and CBS in the US is planning a similarly modernised series of its own.
Taking their leads from Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual, various people have tried to imagine what Sherlock's childhood would have been like, primarily with the intention of entertaining children. The most famous attempt is Steven Spielberg and Barry Levinson's 1985 blockbuster Young Sherlock Holmes and The Pyramid of Fear, which imagines Homes meeting Watson (and Moriarty) at school.
There's also been a recent series of books by former Doctor Who New Adventures writer Andy Lane called - appropriately enough - Young Sherlock Holmes.
But beating them all was Granada TV, which back in 1982 gave us the Sunday afternoon serial Young Sherlock:The Mystery of the Manor House. Here's about the only set of clips that I can show you.
The British sitcom writing team of Andrew Norriss and Richard Fegen had something of a mini-career in the 1980s of subverting the sitcom genre. British sitcoms had been somewhat dominated by farce, with unlikely coincidences, social embarrassment and unwritten rules of social behaviour the cliches that filled the genre.
Although best known for The Brittas Empire, which took all these concerns to their logical (and sometimes illogical) conclusions while simultaneously subverting them, Norriss and Fegen began undermining sitcoms first in 1984 on the then-new TV network Channel 4 with Chance in a Million. The show's premise was simple: you know all those coincidences and bizarre events that happen in sitcoms and drive the plots? Now imagine a man cursed with such bad luck that that's what his life is actually like. What would he be like? How would he cope? What sort of experiences would he have? Would he have a girlfriend? And how would she deal with it?
Starring Simon Callow and Brenda Blethyn, then just beginning their TV careers, Chance in a Million paradoxically saw more romantic mix-ups, rugby teams stuck down sewers, wedding rings catapulted into fires, cases of mistaken identity, bank errors and drug traffickers than any sitcom before and since, and is fondly remembered by almost everyone who saw it. Here's a trailer:
So this is it? The first new show of the New Year and this is what ABC throws at us? That's kind of like saying "Merry Christmas!" to someone and having bubonic plague pustules rubbed in your face as a reward. In fact, ABC should probably have to pay people to watch this, in part to afford the shots they'll need, such is its mesmerising, terrifying, pus-ridden awfulness.
Now, as mentioned last year, one of the big trends of the Fall 2011 season was "sitcoms that deal with the (alleged) difficulty of being a man in the 21st century". We started on a relative high note with How To Be A Gentleman, before slowly moving down through the various circles of Hell that were Last Man Standing and Man Up!. Now, though, like Dante, we have made it through to the ninth circle and we are staring into the three treacherous faces of Satan.
We have reached Work It.
Work It sees a bunch of unemployed men theorise that women 'have it all' in the modern job market, so to get jobs, they dress up as women. And watching it is like being deprived of God's love for 30 minutes, although it will feel like eternity.
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A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.