US TV

Third-episode verdict: Meadowlands

The Carusometer for Meadowlands2 Partial Caruso

Long-time fans of Charlie Brooker will no doubt recall the “Daily Mail Island” section of TV Go Home. The idea of “Daily Mail Island” was that a bunch of people were stuck on an island with only the Daily Mail to read. Naturally, they ended up attacking immigrant pigeons, etc, etc.

Meadowlands is sort of a Daily Mail village, except rather than being filled with people who have frighteningly misinformed opinions, it’s filled with people from Daily Mail headlines. Imagine what it would be like if the only gynaecologist you could see was a scary stalker who’s unhealthily obsessed with you and who blurts out declarations of love at inopportune moments. Imagine a world where all working class people are rapists and murderers who can’t be sent to prison because they’re underage. Imagine a world where the only cop in town is brutal and corrupt and liable to beat you to extract a confession.

This, pretty much, is how Meadowlands works. Every character is someone you should be scared off.

It didn’t look like this at first. The first episode, while having quite a dark underbelly and being a bit confused, was also filled with comedy grotesques you could laugh at. But by the end of the quite absorbing second episode, it had all gone very badly wrong and comedy had made a quick retreat for the exit in case it was assaulted by rabid paedophiles. The third episode was darker still.

With the comedy downplayed, it’s a much better show, albeit one that is slightly nightmarish viewing. The protagonists aren’t exactly appealing and the supposed high-functioning autistic son (who’s played like he’s low-functioning) is pretty irritating. But it’s pretty entertaining on its own terms, even if it doesn’t have any more relevance to the real world than the Daily Mail does.

Heaven knows where it’s going if it’s already this full of evil with another five episodes to go. I’m hoping it’s going to be quite horrific. That would be nice.

The Medium is Not Enough has great pleasure in declaring Meadowlands a two or “Partial Caruso” on The Carusometer quality scale. A Partial Caruso corresponds to “a show in which David Caruso might volunteer to cameo. After forgetting what comes after ”I’m going to be your judge, jury and…’ in his supposedly threatening speech a total of 47 times during the audition, he will instead ad lib ‘I’m going to get you’ while clenching his fist. The producers will hire Ray Liotta instead.”

News

The News of the World on Tuesday

David Tennant and Kylie Minogue

Doctor Who

  • Oh, Rusty, Rusty, Rusty. Will anyone believe anything you say again? Yes, Kylie Minogue will be starring in the Christmas special
  • The Sun lists the odds for who will be the next companion. Top of the list: Loo Brealey from Casualty (she auditioned for the role of Rose so not totally unlikely) and Rose Byrne from 28 Weeks Later (she was also in Casanova, so again, not totally unlikely)

Film

British TV

US TV

US TV

Review: Burn Notice 1×1

Burn Notice

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, USA Network

In the UK: Not yet acquired but Hallmark or Five will probably get their greedy mitts on it

I’m rather partial to a good spy show. A good spy show is better than almost any other kind of genre show you can think of.

But note the use of the word ‘good’ there, because there haven’t been many good spy shows. Not proper spy shows. Callan, The Sandbaggers, a couple of episodes of Man in a Suitcase but that’s about it.

Don’t you even think about mentioning Spooks. Just don’t.

The other spy shows all suffer from a serious lack of realism. They aren’t so much spy shows as action shows (or comedies in most other cases). And as Jeffrey Donovan points out during the voice over at the beginning of Burn Notice, most spy work is about as interesting as sitting in a dentist’s waiting room all day. It isn’t action work.

Burn Notice tries to have its cake and eat it. It tries to be a proper, grown-up spy show – the first the US has probably ever produced (don’t even think of saying 24. Or Threat Matrix. Or whatever you were just about to say. Just don’t). But it also tries to mix in a bit of action, a bit of humour – mostly through Donovan but also through MAN GOD Bruce Campbell – and a bit of that relentless “character” that USA Network is now (in)famous for.

And you know what? It actually works. I think.

Continue reading “Review: Burn Notice 1×1”

UK TV

Review: That’s What I Call Television

That's What I Call Television

In the UK: Saturdays, 9.30pm, ITV1

Talk about derivative. ITV, never one for spotting a trend until it’s five years passed, has noticed that actually, thirtysomethings like to get nostalgic about television they watched when they were a kid. So they’ve rolled out a show hosted by Fern Britton that celebrates TV that aired between 1979 and 1989, got three celebrities with memories of the period to trawl the archives for the high points, all the while dragging on the occasional guest star for an audience of Friends Reunited heavy-users to gape at in awe.

It’s not bad if you enjoy shouting out “that was the theme to the McVitie’s Club advert” at the TV at appropriate moments. But for anyone with an attention span, there’s a disconcerting sense that opportunities have been missed. We had an honest to goodness reunion of Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal. Wow! Yey!

FOR TWO MINUTES. What’s the point in that? They got about three sentences out before they were trundled off. That could have been an entire programme.

This week’s guest was Julian Clary with Matthew Kelly next week and – really, why? – Bradley Walsh to come the following week. Clary’s entertaining and we saw some good clips, not just of his favourite programmes but of him in his various on-screen appearances. The in-house band that recreates theme tunes of yesterday is amusing. And, I’m hoping that the web site is being nice and there really will be a two-minute long reunion of David McCallum and Joanna Lumley to discuss Sapphire and Steel.

But there’s no real focus to the show. It’s just a few things thrown together with a celebrity, all to be done on the cheap. Yet another piece of diluted output from the network that likes to say “Can we have some of that, too?”