What did you watch on TV last week (w/e March 7)

Here’s what I’ve been watching:

  • The Bible: A History I really only tuned into this to see Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens, but it became very apparent that Ann Widdecombe (sp?), who was trying to persuade us all that following the “10 commandments” was all we needed to have a happy life/society, couldn’t construct a coherent argument if her life depended on it, so it was all a bit of a waste of time. Realise I should probably have recorded the following week’s with my heroine Bettany Hughes talking about the women of the Bible instead.
  • Brian Sewell’s Grand Tour: My, what a load of self-congratulatory indulgence. Brian travels around Europe, following the route of those Brits who used to go on a “Grand Tour”. Basically, an excuse for him to go on holiday, since he really didn’t tell you anything useful. Worth it for his wonderful pronunciation of “peasant” though.
  • Burn Notice: That didn’t make a whole lick of sense, did it? Nice explosions, fun and good to see super-Michael can get hurt occasionally. But how did Simon’s super-plan make any sense whatsoever? Or the ending? Or anything else? So the season has basically meandered rather a lot, the Chris Vance plot being essentially worthless. But at least the end promises some possible formula changes next season.
  • Chuck: Good to see Chuck back, even if the budget cuts. As with all of Allison “producer whose name I can never remember”‘s scripts, this was one of the better eps, with more depth of characterisation for Sarah and Casey than we’ve come to expect. However, I’ve come to a disturbing conclusion: I really want to see more of Awesome and Ellie, rather than Sarah. What you going to do? It was also one of the most weapon-illiterate episodes of anything I’ve seen so far short of Torchwood. Someone needs to brush up on snipers before writing these things.
  • CSI: A 50-50 mix of good plot and bad plot. The whole country and western plot was relatively ignorable, offering nothing new, but the dead CIA operative explored new avenues for the show and gave us Will Patton again; it also hinted a new facets of MorpheusLaurence Fishburne and his dad that were pleasing.
  • Community: A welcome return to form with some great moments. More like that please.  
  • Cougar Town: Cougar Town is one of those shows that you watch, enjoy, but have absolutely no memory of afterwards. It’s TV bubblegum. But it’s fun.
  • HIccups: A new Canadian “comedy” show in which a woman who doesn’t fit in and ends up getting into fights visits a rather rubbish life coach. Failed to raise a single laugh in the first 10 minutes, despite everyone involved trying their absolute hardest to be wacky. Do not watch this show.
  • A Kick in the Head – Las Vegas: Alan Yentob’s history of Las Vegas was actually rather good at first, dealing with Native Americans, the Mob, the rise of “architainment” and all of Vegas’s peaks and troughs. Surprisingly, he managed to avoid being too sneery for a good portion of the show, and he was even able to embrace parts of Las Vegas as art. But the poor old Venetian took something of a hammering, and there was a general underlying hint that Yentob thought that Vegas was all “a bit much”. Informative, though, with some good interviews, including Penn and Teller.
  • Lost: Sayid’s back. Cool fights, nice crossovers in the flash-sideways, but what does it all mean? They killed the Japanese dude pretty quickly and in a surprising way. Why? Is Claire going to try to kill Kate (we can only hope)? I’m going to be needing some more answers soon.
  • Life Unexpected: They seem to stripping it down to its bare components now, removing almost all the characters they’ve introduced since the start of the season. Which is odd. It’s still proving enjoyable and the changes are making it a better show.
  • Modern Family: Possibly the second worst episode so far. Yet another one of those “men are stupid, women are great” eps that US sitcoms hurl in our directions every so often and make us want to hurl something back. Trouble is, it also means that the female characters end up unlikeable and less developed. What fears did the two women have to overcome this week? None. So they didn’t have to grow as people. Everybody else did, and their personalities were explored as a result.
  • QI: Isn’t it weird how less compelling QI is when you know something about the subject? I had the same experience when Stevie started talking about quantum mechanics a while back, and found myself saying, “Hang on. That’s not right.” This week, our Stevie tried his luck out on Laconic phrases – no Stephen, Laconic phrases did not originate during the Battle of Thermopylae and date back to at least the 8th century, and the one you’re talking about (“If.”) was actually given to Philip II of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Sigh. Illusion – broken.
  • Rome: A little late to the party here, I know, but this is clearly what Spartacus wants to be when it grows up so I thought I’d try the first episode to see what it’s like. Enjoying it a lot so far and if it holds up, I’ll buy the rest off iTunes – yes, I did get the whole first season out from Lovefilm, but I never watched it the whole year I had it. It’s got many of the same elements of Spartacus – Romans, fights, swearing, nudity, sex – except handled in an adult manner, thankfully.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand: Ah yes, talking of Spartacus, I decided to play catch-up. I’ve still an episode to go, but it’s still oddly compelling in that car-crash sort of way. But my, does it want to show you everything. We even had a scene in which naked John Hannah is compelled by naked Lucy Lawless to start screwing a naked slavegirl up ‘the starfish’ (I use euphemisms – Spartacus does not), while two other naked slave girls continue to minister to her. And they’re all in a bath together. Then, later on, naked prostitutes turned up for an orgy with the naked gladiators and they all frolicked with one another in every imaginable combination, while covered in wine. It’s all still very comic book and entertaining in an odd sort of way, clearly borrowing more and more from 300 with every episode. But there’s a growing intelligence to it when it’s not trying to be big and clever. It’s coming to Bravo, BTW, UK viewers. I wonder if they’ll be able to get away without editing it.
  • 24: Dear 24. Please stop sucking. Thank you.

But what did you watch?

As always, no spoilers unless you’re going to use the <spoiler> </spoiler> tags, please. If you’ve reviewed something on your blog, you can put a link to it here rather than repeat yourself (although too many links and you might ge


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.