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Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


January 5, 2011

Review: InSecurity 1x1

Posted on January 5, 2011 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

InSecurity

In Canada: Tuesdays, 8.30pm ET, CBC

I always approach Canadian comedies with a degree of trepidation these days. While Canadian drama is on something on a roll, every comedy I watch is a stinker, whether it's 18 to Life, Men with Brooms, Hiccups or anything else that comes my way. Basically, it seems no matter who it's by, who's in it, what it's about or what channel it's on, a Canadian comedy is a desperately unfunny half an hour that makes you wonder where the Kids in the Hall are when you need them and how much Canada can pay Ryan Reynolds, Steve Martin et al to come back.

So I really wasn't expecting a lot from CBC's InSecurity, which is best thought of as the Canadian version of 1980s British sitcom The Piglet Files. In it, agents for the fictional Canadian intelligence agency, NISA, run around saving the country completely accidentally since they're actually - with one exception - a bunch of incompetents. Thankfully, so are all the bad guys - because they're Canadian and Canadians are inherently loveable and not good at stuff that involves violence apparently.

And you know what? I was expecting not a lot and not a lot is what I got. Queue the trailer.

Continue reading "Review: InSecurity 1x1"

December 22, 2010

Review: Perfect Couples

Posted on December 22, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Perfect Couples

In the US: Thursdays, 8:30/7:30c, NBC. Starts January 20th 2010

"Put your best foot forward," goes the expression. Now, theoretically, NBC has already done that with its Fall schedule, so whatever comes in the form of its mid-season replacements should be its second-best foot, if you continue to follow the metaphor. Given how terrible NBC's Fall season was (Undercovers, The Event, Chase, Outsourced), root canal surgery should therefore be preferable to The Cape and the other shows that are going to be hitting TV screens in January on the Peacock network.

However, NBC is again trying to put its best foot forward to overcome these negative expectations by previewing what is likely to be the best of the also-rans, Perfect Couples, just before Christmas when not much is on, rather than leaving us to ignore it when the far more packed January schedule arrives. To really give Perfect Couples a chance, NBC has also clearly picked what it thinks is the best episode, too (if you notice, we don't even have an episode number in the headline this time, since this isn't the pilot episode or even the second episode - it's the God-knows-what episode).

Well, if this is the best, oh dear for the rest.

Perfect Couples is a single-camera 'comedy' about relationships that features three couples who are friends with each other (so, yes, if you do the math, that's six friends in an NBC show on Thursday night. Hmmm…). I air-quote 'comedy' because it takes 10 minutes to become in any way funny - that's 50% of its run-time before a joke decides to put its head above the parapet - after which it does raise the occasional titter.

So is there a good reason to watch Perfect Couples when it bursts into our living rooms in January? Well, there's the cast at least. There's Olivia Munn, the occasional actress, author, host of Attack of the Show and somewhat controversial Daily Show reporter. There's David Walton of the rapidly dead 100 Questions.

And then there's Hayes MacArthur. Who? That would be Mr Ali Larter to you.

Here's a trailer:

Continue reading "Review: Perfect Couples"

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December 16, 2010

Lost Gems: Jigsaw (1979-1984)

Posted on December 16, 2010 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Noseybonk in Jigsaw

Back in the 80s, there was a man who was legendary in kids' TV: Clive Doig. A producer of Vision On and creator of Puzzle Trail, The Deceivers, Eureka, Beat The Teacher, The Album, Abracadabra, Johnny Ball Reveals All, Eat Your Words and See It Saw It, he was also the man behind the Trackwords puzzles in Radio Times (if you don't remember them, they're were 3x3 squares of letters from which you had to make as many words as possible). A talented man, I'm sure you'll all agree.

But he's probably best known as the creator of Jigsaw, an especially surreal piece of kids TV that ran from 1979 to 1984.

Jigsaw cast

Hosted initially by Janet Ellis - who went on to host Blue Peter - it combined puzzles, comedy sketches and just about any weird shit that came into Doig's mind, including the supposedly fun but actually terrifying Mr Noseybonk (pictured above) who would run around parks a lot (nothing suspicious about that), the O-Men (Sylvester McCoy and David Rappaport), who could be summoned by words containing double-o letters


The O-Men

Pterry the Pterodactyl (a puppet), Biggum the giant (a blue-screened foot) and Jigg, the talking jigsaw piece.

Jigsaw

It also featured mime artist Adrian Hedley, who - as well as playing Mr Noseybonk - didn't say a single word for the entire first series, despite being Ellis's co-host.

Throughout the show, the presenters and supporting characters came together to solve a number of puzzles. These puzzles would then contribute to one larger conundrum that would be revealed at the end of the show. The viewer was encouraged to take part and solve the puzzles at home.

That's the description but it really doesn't do the show justice, so here's an actual episode, complete with marvellous theme tune. And for you, trivia fans, note that Janet Ellis is pregnant in this episode, so this is technically one of the first on-screen appearances of pop star Sophie Ellis-Bexter. Oh, and that I won a Jigsaw book in a competition when I was seven.

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