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January 10, 2008

The Random Episode Carusometer: Flash Gordon

Posted on January 10, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Time to tune in to a random episode of a TV show, just in case I made a mistake and judged it before it had a chance to find its feet. This time, the Random Episode Carusometer turns the shades of ratings justice to implacably regard Flash Gordon, which got a four or "Major Caruso" for its fifth-episode verdict.

This time we tune in at random for episode 16, in which lots of people get locked up. Spoilers ahead.

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January 10, 2008

Review: Hugh's Chicken Run

Posted on January 10, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Hugh's Chicken Run

In the UK: Monday 7th to Wednesday 9th, 9pm, Channel 4

January has seen the start of Channel 4's Big Food Fight. It's been heavily advertised and the schedules are crammed with programmes about food. What it's actually about is slightly less obvious. We've a live cookathon with Gordon Ramsay to look forward to a week tomorrow, but this week's offerings concern what happens to our food before we eat it. What's the link? I don't know.

Chicken appears to be the big concern, though. Apparently, chickens aren't treated very well before they get killed then eaten, except for some strange variety called "free range" that get treated slightly better – before being killed then eaten. Who knew?

ABC1s, that's who. C2s, Ds, et al? All clueless dimwits apparently (oops. Veering into Peter De Lane territory now). Channel 4, of course, had great success with its Jamie's School Dinners campaign so for 'the dimwits', there's Jamie's Fowl Dinners on Friday to look forward to - I think he's just going to stick a chicken in Black and Decker Workmate or something.

But only the really middle class, well off or well meaning can afford to spend three consecutive nights watching hour-long Channel 4 documentaries. So to give the ABC1s a chance to sneer at the prols for being so uneducated and crass, which was surely the real point of Jamie's School Dinners, there's been three hours of Hugh's Chicken Run, in which Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall tries to turn the town of Axminster into the first free-range town in Britain while simultaneously convincing all the supermarkets to only stock free-range chicken.

How did he try to do that? By setting up his own intensive chicken farm.

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January 8, 2008

Review: The Wire 5x1

Posted on January 8, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Wire, Season 5

In the US: Sundays, 9pm, HBO
In the UK: FX at some point. Hopefully

Characters re-cast: 0
Major characters gotten rid of: Unknown. Some still MIA
Major new characters: Dozens
Format change percentage: 75%

There was a criminal injustice committed last year. In March's list of the 50 greatest TV dramas ever, The Wire wasn't even mentioned. It came nowhere. Something called The Sopranos (sp?) came in at number one. What's up there?

There are many theories as to why this should have happened. Some say it's because The Wire is set in a poor city in the US – Baltimore – rather than something a bit more visually arresting and familiar like New York or Los Angeles. Some argue that it's because the cast is mostly black and filled with unfamiliar faces. Some believe the level of patience required to follow it, picking up small details and touches of character that become important only after episodes or even seasons have gone by, is too much for the average viewer. Others yet claim it's the fact it's on a channel like HBO or FX in the UK that reduces the audience to negligible numbers.

Yet, as I've been bleating on at you for ages, The Wire is one of the finest TV programmes ever made. A devastatingly realistic look at policing, the underclass, politics, institutions and why meaningful change is almost impossible, it's back for its last ever season.

Yes, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the end of its run, because it doesn't look like the show's creators have reduced the show's quality one iota.

Continue reading "Review: The Wire 5x1"

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