Short of Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine wobbling around together on-screen, could there be any better news for thirtysomething British males than an A-Team reunion?
The sky is blue. The grass is green. Tom Cruise is irritating. Is it any surprise that he won the title of Most Irritating Film Star of 2005? His rants on psychology and anti-depressants alone are enough to qualify him as Most Blatantly Unhinged Film Star, too, although I’m pretty Mel Gibson would give him a run for his money.
Did everyone watch the Christmas episode of Doctor Who? I know 9.4 million of you did, so fess up. What did you think? I actually thought it was rather good. A couple of embarrassing moments at the beginning, but other than that, I really enjoyed it.
Heresy though it seems to be these days, I didn’t like the first season of the new Whos. Christopher Eccleston was good at the intense and miserable stuff (QFS!) but couldn’t pull off the lighter stuff at all. He clearly thought it was all beneath him: certainly if you caught any of the Doctor Who Confidentials (what can I say? I’m a sucker for a behind-the-scenes documentary. I even listen to the audio commentaries on DVDs, sitting through all three of the Se7en voice-overs), you’ll recall him saying “he didn’t need to get out his Stanislavsky” for the role.
Most of the scripts were equally toe-curling and there was more than a hint of “Oh my God! They’ve given us a budget but we don’t know what we’re doing! Help! Help!” in the earlier episodes. Given that the exec producer, Russell T Davies, is more than capable of writing drama for children that’s also suitable for adults – as anyone who watched Dark Season or Century Falls in the early 90s can attest – it’s a surprise that he went with fart jokes, belching dustbins and slapstick as a way to bring the kids in. Still, what do I know? Look what the ratings were.
Anyway, as a result of all this childishness, I never bothered to make a date for most of the episodes.
‘The Christmas Invasion’, however, is probably the first of the new Whos that I would want to watch again. Everything worked. David Tennant, with toned-down London accent, was very good, maybe needing a little more gravitas at times, but excellent for the most part. The script was good, with no fart gags and no tiresome deus ex Piper at the end: the Doctor actually earned his victories this time round. There was also a darker edge to it that hinted at a more adult tone for the show.
The trailer at the end of the episode has made me eager for more, which is something I wasn’t expecting. Curses. I really don’t want to be a Doctor Who fan. Don’t do this to me!
Just realised that I promised elsewhere that I was going to review Otherwise Engaged, a revival of the 1975 Simon Gray play, starring Richard E Grant and Anthony Head. I’ve been holding off on this one, much as I’ve held off reviewing Broken Flowers, on the general grounds that I didn’t know what to make of it. There are spoilers in it, so look away now if you don’t want to know what happens.
Say what you like about Jonathan Ross – I’ve probably said it already – but when it comes to films, he really knows his stuff. His 1980s Channel Four film programme, the Incredibly Strange Film Show, introduced a whole generation of British youth to Jackie Chan movies long before he became ubiquitous in Hollywood, and that was just one of its achievements. So a three-part tour of Asian cinema by Johnny can only be good.
While researching this entry, I came across an article in The Independent, which suggested that BBC4’s ascent into watchability may actually be a strategy by BBC4 controller Janice Hadlow. If it is, my hat’s off to you Ms Hadlow. It turns out you may be the only controller in British television who knows what she’s doing.