US TV

Hits and misses of the new US sitcoms coming your way

Julia Louis-Dreyfus



The New Adventures of Old Christine: A definite miss. Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays a just-divorced mum who still has a great relationship with her ex-. Ex-husband takes up with a new younger girlfriend, also called Christine, which makes Louis-Dreyfus the Old Christine – hence the title.

I think I laughed only about four times and they were more kind of nose snorts than belly laughs (attractive, huh?). Has one of those annoying precocious kids so beloved by US sitcoms, but most of the snorts came care of his adventures at his new private school (“Where are all the black kids?”), so that can be forgiven. Louis-Dreyfus is good, managing to avoid most of the possible Elaine mannerisms she could have thrown out, but the rest of the cast is insipid. Not exactly worth even half an hour of your time.

The Loop

The Loop: I reviewed this way back in August when it was still a pilot. It’s been retooled, although most of the good stuff – such as the Generation X-style margin notes – is still there. I won’t bother with the plot much, other than to say it’s about a junior exec at a Chicago-based airline firm who has to go through the various twists life and his job throw at him. The life stuff isn’t that amusing, although it has its moments, but the work stuff is on a par with the US version of The Office without the cringe factor. Amusing and should please anyone who’s ever hated their job, so I’m hoping it’s going to be on the hits side.

Teachers

I’ll let you know what I think of the NBC version of Teachers when it starts on the 28th. It’s based on the Channel 4 series, but has been smacked into standard NBC sitcom shape, albeit with the strange inclusion of Sarah Alexander from Coupling as a slightly priggish optimist who thinks she can make a difference in kids’ lives. It’s had bad reviews, so suspect a demise as swift as NBC’s version of Coupling.

For those of you still interested (beggaring the question “Why?”), Joey should be back next month as well. With two of the stars already signed up to appear in other shows next season and abysmally poor ratings when it briefly returned after the Olympics, the writing’s pretty much on the wall for Joey, I’m afraid guys.

Music

Not exactly a requiem

Bit of a catty theme today.

Spare a thought for Mark McCarthy, bass player for The Wonder Stuff. His cat Susan died the night before last Wednesday’s gig in Islington. She was the grand old age of 18 and “very well cuddled”. There were no wreaths, no pictures, no words. Just a very simple tribute:

Susan the cat

Goodbye Susan.

Jess gets her own series. Good news? Bad news? I don’t know

I’m not sure whether my heart should be warmed or chilled by the news that Jess the cat from Postman Pat is to get her own show.

On the surface, “Ah! How sweet! Cats!”

Underneath, the terrible fact it’s going to be computer-generated.

In the wake of the terrible Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin debacle, can we assume there’s some new international school of soul-removal that children’s TV executives are being sent to?

US TV

What’s wrong with Bill O’Reilly?

Bill O'Reilly

In case, oh British readers, you don’t know who Bill O’Reilly is, he’s the most watched news anchor in the US. The O’Reilly Factor, which airs on Fox News – yes, you can watch it if you have Sky – lets O’Reilly interview and generally abuse people who don’t share his right-of-centre vantage point. He does it well, but he does get a little carried away some times – calling anyone who disagrees with his views in favour of the Iraq war, for instance, “a traitor to the country”. He is the man US lefties love to hate. Or just hate.

As well as videos on the Fox web site itself, there’s a great “Brief History of Bill” over on the New Yorker to help you get up to speed with Bill. Most interesting of all, it includes some excerpts from a novel he wrote. I thought I knew enough about and had been amused enough by O’Reilly that nothing could faze me, but if that’s an insight into his mind, there are some worrying, worrying things going on.

Consider this, the means of execution chosen by the anti-hero journalist (an obvious alter ego of O’Reilly) for the man who stole his Falklands War story (something that also happened to O’Reilly):

The assailant’s right hand, now holding the oval base of the spoon, rocketed upward, jamming the stainless stem through the roof of Ron Costello’s mouth. The soft tissue gave way quickly and the steel penetrated the correspondent’s brain stem. Ron Costello was clinically dead in four seconds.

Let’s back away from Bill slowly.

Am I now a “BBC4 viewer”?

It’s a question I’m grappling with on two fronts.

Front one: I’ve an invite to a BBC4 audience focus group, in which BBC4 viewers can comment on the network and be paid £50 for the experience. I’m grappling with the ethics of that one: can I, a media journalist, not only influence the content of a channel but be paid for it?. I suspect, despite the allure of £50 (there’s very little I won’t do for £50), that I’ll have to duck that one.

Front two: A new BBC4 game show is on the way, according to The Stage. Hosted by Julian Fellowes, Never Mind the Full Stops is all about the exciting world of punctuation, bad grammar and misspellings. Hmm. Must avoid severe temptation to mock pedantic middle-class gameshow hosted by a man called Julian.

However, I’d quite like to watch it. When I wear my sub-editing hat, these are exactly the kinds of issues I have to watch out for (hey, I’m off to the Royal College of Nursing next week to ensure all manners of naughtiness don’t sneak into their magazines). A nice show with pointers like this is just up my street.

So does that make me a BBC4 viewer? Am I becoming one of ‘them’? What a worrying idea.