The CarusometerA Carusometer rating of 4

Third-episode verdict: Alcatraz (Fox)

In the US: Mondays, 9pm ET/PT, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by Watch

Well, normally I hold out until episode three of a show in case it gets better, since usually you can expect some quality change in a show by that point.

Alcatraz, though, has enviable consistency. After a surprisingly dull first two set of episodes, episode three – its explicit ‘origins’ – proved to be amazingly identical to them in almost every way. The procedural element of the show was just a massive plod through gross serendipity crossed with colossal stupidity. We got absolutely no revelations about the central mystery, only more mystery that wasn’t actually that interesting. Parminder Nagra was still stuck in a hospital bed, not saying anything. And the female lead still looked about 16. In fact, she seems to be getting younger.

Beyond Sam Neill and the vague possibility that there’s something good hidden deep inside this mystery, there are no reasons to watch this show. So I shalln’t.

Carusometer rating: 4
Rob’s prediction: Should stagger on until the end of the season at least. Could possibly even get a second season. But it doesn’t deserve to.


Sitting Tennant

Friday’s Sitting Tennant (week 4, 2012) plus the winners of the January 2012 Sitting Tennant picture competition

Sister Chastity's Sitting Tennant

Shilohforever's Sitting Tennant

And we have our first winners of the year! With 35 points apiece, Hebbie and Sister Chastity are the joint medal winners in January’s Sitting Tennant photo competition. Well done both of you! Enjoy your laurels as crowned champions.

Next week, the points will go back to zero in the picture competition for February, but everyone’s points will be kept and tallied up at the end of the year to announce the overall 2012 champion.

Good luck picture next month hunting everyone!

  1. Hebbie, Sister Chastity: 35
  2. shilohforever: 20
  3. Janice: 10

Don’t forget Tuesday’s caption competition!

Got a picture of David Tennant sitting, lying down or in some indeterminate state in between? Then leave a link to it below or email me and if it’s judged suitable and doesn’t obviously infringe copyright, it will appear in the “Sitting Tennant” gallery. Don’t forget to include your name in the filename so I don’t get mixed up about who sent it to me.

The best pic in the stash each week will appear on Tuesday and get ten points; the runners up will appear on Friday (one per person who sends one in) and get five points.

You can also enter the witty and amusing captions league table by commenting on Tuesday’s Sitting Tennant photo, the best caption getting 10 points, everyone who contributes getting five points.

Each month, I’ll name the best picture provider and best captioneer, and then at the end of the year, the overall champion will be announced for 2012!

Friday’s “Sky Atlantic’s Julia Davis comedy, Spiral remake and Army Wives (UK)” news



British TV

  • Channel 5 acquires Once Upon A Time
  • Julia Davis to write and star in Hunderby for Sky Atlantic
  • ITV commissions dramas about soldiers’ wives and girlfriends


  • Fox orders John Wells comedy Prodigy Bully
  • Wednesday ratings: Touch starts well
  • CBS orders comedy pilot from Rebel Wilson…
  • …and three drama pilots, including Mommy Track Mysteries, Quean and a 60s Las Vegas sheriff show from Nicholas Pileggi
  • Bebe Neuwirth to recur on The Good Wife
  • Alias‘s Kevin Weisman to recur on Awake
  • (Nearly year-old news) BBC America remaking Engrenages/Spiral
Classic TV

Lost Gems: Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, A Life in Pieces (1990) and Why Bother? (1993)

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling had a long and illustrious career as a comedy character. Originally created by Peter Cook for Beyond The Fringe and Not Only… But Also, he was an aristocrat used by Cook to satirise any number of things as well as for pure surrealism. But he’s probably best known for his attempts to get ravens to fly underwater.

Dudley Moore: Is it difficult to get ravens to fly underwater?

Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling: Well, I think the word difficult is an awfully good one here. Yes, it is. It’s nigh impossible… There they are sitting on my wrist. I say ‘Fly! Fly you little devils!!’… (then) they drown. Little black feathery figure topples off my wrist and spirals to a watery grave. We’re knee deep in feathers off that part of the coast… not a single success in the whole forty years of training.

DM: Does this makes your life a miserable failure?

SAS-G: My life has been a miserable failure, yes.

Probably his finest hour, however, was in Christmas 1990, when over a period of 12 days on BBC2, he explained to Ludovic Kennedy what gifts he’d like for Christmas in A Life in Pieces. These five-minute sketches allowed Sir Arthur to look back over his life in exchange for gifts of a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves and so on. However, his reminiscences exposed him unwittingly as a coward, liar, murderer and many other things.

If you have an hour or so, even though they haven’t been released on DVD, you can enjoy on YouTube all 12 episodes of A Life in Pieces:

That wasn’t the last the world heard of Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling, however. He went on in 1994 to record for Radio 3 a series of five interviews, Why Bother?, with none other than Chris Morris. During the interviews, Sir Arthur talked about his experiments on eels, his role in the racial violence during the 1992 Los Angeles riots following the Rodney King trial, his military career, including his time in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp during World War II, and his habit of strangling his business partners, as well as his next project: cloning from the fossilised remains of the infant Christ.

The interviews were completely improvised and Morris says:

It was a very different style of improvisation from what I’d been used to, because those On The Hour and The Day Today things were about trying to establish a character within a situation, and Peter Cook was really doing ‘knight’s move’ and ‘double knight’s move’ thinking to construct jokes or ridiculous scenes flipping back on themselves, and it was amazing.

Thankfully, the BBC has, in its wisdom, released Why Bother? on CD, but it’s also available on YouTube. Alas, Peter Cook died in 1994. He is much-missed.

Thursday’s “The Office spin-off, White Van Man’s green light, CBS’s Widow Detective and Alan Ball’s Banshee” news



British TV

  • Netflix acquires Freemantle UK content
  • Channel 4 to invest £450m in local production, reduce US acquisitions again…
  • …reports first annual loss in over a decade