UK TV

Review: Doctor Who – 6×12 – Closing Time

In the UK: Saturday 24th September, 7.15pm, BBC1/BBC1 HD. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: Saturday 24th September, 9pm/8c ET/PT, BBC America

So another one that I quite liked, despite a slightly disappointing ending to the main plot. A strange callback to RTD-era style writing, principally because his best pal Gareth Roberts wrote it (clearly a man who has recently become a father), a lot of the time it felt like a David Tennant-era story. The Cybermen obviously helped on that score, but the familiar, everyday setting, copious one-liners, et al were indicative.

All the River Song stuff at the end was good, as was the Doctor’s maudlin nature as he walks to his own death and the cameos by two former companions. Good to see some cybermats around, too, and they were actually scary for once to boot.

All in all, a good fun one. But what did you think?

US TV

Review: Pan Am 1×1

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Acquired by BBC2

Again, stop me if you’ve heard this one before

There’s a lot of talk about people harking back to the ‘easier’ times of the 60s, to wanting to once again enjoy a time when sexism, racism and homophobia were acceptable. When women know their ‘place’ and that was too look pretty and not do much.

That, apparently, is the appeal of Mad Men. And why there are now two other shows set in the 60s, vying for our attentions: The Playboy Club and now ABC’s Pan Am

Of course, this is cobblers. Mad Men is successful because it allows us to look back and condemn those times and because it actually has good writing, good acting and good characterisation. And while Mad Men has certainly helped to get these two shows on our screens, American TV has been making ‘period pieces’ like this for years, whether it’s Swingtown, Band of Brothers, John Adams, Life on Mars or Bonanza.

Like Mad Men, these new 60s shows also allow us to look back at the 60s and condemn, yet while The Playboy Club has decided to tread the dark path of the crime drama while showing us a certain amount of the sleaze at the Chicago Playboy Club and what women’s lives were like at the time, Pan Am has gone light and fluffy when doing the same, trying to show us a world in which the air hostess was the height of glamour and empowerment and a job to which apparently any intelligent woman would aspire, whether it was to get away from her own life or because she’s a secret CIA agent.

Yet, despite all the things that Pan Am could and should have ripped off from Mad Men, even with the help of West Wing producer Thomas Schlamme and a cast that include Christina Ricci, it’s gone for possibly the worst option: it’s picked up on Mad Men‘s pacing. Pan Am is about as exciting as an eight-hour flight across the Atlantic.

Continue reading “Review: Pan Am 1×1”

What did you watch last week (w/e September 21)?

Time for "What did you watch last week?", my chance to tell you what I watched last week and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case we’ve missed them.

My recommendations for maximum viewing pleasure this week: The Daily ShowDoctor Who.

Things you might enjoy but that I’m not necessarily recommending: Strike Back: Project Dawn.

  • Free Agents: Marginally less muddled and confused than the first episode. The two central characters are a little more likeable, the supporting characters aren’t. Anthony Stewart Head is still marvellous though.
  • Fresh Meat: I was expecting a bit more of something from the Peep Show crew. Supposedly a comedy drama about what ‘student life is really like’, it’s very recognisable in many ways – the effort to fit in, the attempts to show how cool you are – but it still wasn’t that funny. It didn’t help that Jack Whitehall was in the cast.
  • CSI: NY: I decided to watch the first episode of the new season, just to see what’s practically the only drama series to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11. All the flashbacks to the day were very well done, but the rest of the show in no way makes me want to watch it. It doesn’t help that everyone appears to have new jobs now.
  • Ringer: Less action-packed than the first episode, it’s still watchable soapy fun.
  • Up All Night: More entertaining than episode 1 – just. Watching Christina Applegate and Will Arnett doing all they can to make scenes and lines of dialogue funny is great though.

And in this week’s list of movies: nothing – I have watched no movies this week. Anyone watch The Fades?

But what have you been watching?

"What did you watch last week?" is your chance to recommend to friends and fellow blog readers the TV and films that they might be missing or should avoid – and for me to do mini-reviews of everything I’ve watched. Since we live in the fabulous world of Internet catch-up services like the iPlayer and Hulu, why not tell your fellow readers what you’ve seen so they can see the good stuff they might have missed? And keep an eye on The Stage‘s TV Today Square Eyes feature as well for British TV highlights or you’ll be missing out on the good stuff.

Monday’s “ratings surprises” news

Film

British TV

  • Alex Kingston joins Upstairs Downstairs cast
  • BBC and ITV argue over who gets to call its series Love Life [subscription required]

International TV

US TV