Five’s plans for new channels are going badly wrong

Well, they may have invented a channel just for me, Five US, but no good deed goes unpunished. It looks like there won’t actually be any programmes on it, according to Broadcast.

Five’s new US acquisitions channel is facing an autumn launch without a number of its biggest hit shows, including House, Grey’s Anatomy and Law and Order.

Living TV owns the exclusive rights to Grey’s Anatomy, which it licenses to Five but does not want to share with Five US. Hallmark, meanwhile, is not prepared to give up multichannel rights to popular Five series House, Law and Order, Special Victims Unit and Criminal Intent.

Five is also locked in a bidding war with Living over the multichannel rights to its highest rated series CSI with US producer Alliance Atlantis. Living is believed to hold the rights to the most recent series of the show but older episodes coming out of licence are up for grabs.

So what can we expect to see instead?

Five US is expected to launch its limited hours primetime line-up with recently purchased series it owns exclusively, male-skewing Hollywood movies, music shows, US documentaries and US sport.

Aargh! That’s not a TV channel just for me! That’s a TV channel expressly designed to ensure I never watch so much as a second of it! I have visions of Five US turning into ESPN 8, aka “the Ocho”, from Dodgeball: “And now, live from Arizona, midget-tossing!”

Oh well. Maybe something better will come along.

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Emu lives

Curious news. Emu is to come back in a sitcom for kids, with Toby “Son of Rod” Hull as the hand behind the beak this time. Hull has apparently already appeared on stage with the puppet bird a couple of times, so it’s not without precedent, but is licensed sexual harassment and physical assault the best thing for kids these days?

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A new channel just for me

Five have finally revealed their new free-to-view digital channels: Five US and Five Life. I’ll be ignoring Five Life since it’s basically Living TV in disguise (“Five Life will be aimed at women, with soaps and lifestyle programming as well as an extension of the channel’s children strand, Milkshake” – where are the psychics then?), but Five US is going to be all-US programming.

Well, that’s the power of blogging for you. They’ve finally developed a TV station just for me. Hooray!

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UK TV

Review: Doctor Who – 2×8 – The Impossible Planet

The Impossible Planet

Well that was rather good, wasn’t it? It’s been a long time since we’ve had a proper horror story on Who* and they really pulled out all the stops this time to give us a 12A version of Event Horizon. In fact, it was all rather unsettling, almost as unsettling as going to the BBC’s Doctor Who site right now with the sound on your computer turned on. Go on, I dare you.

Back to the plot.

The Doctor and Rose land on a really alien, far away planet that (yes, yes!) looks very much like a quarry. Actually, they land in a mining colony. Good old mining colonies. What would Doctor Who do without them? Or quarries for that matter.

It’s an old planet, with writing on the walls so archaic the TARDIS can’t translate it. The planet is in geostationary orbit round a black hole, which, as the Doctor points out to make sure everyone gets the episode title, is impossible. They also find the Ood, who are some odd slave-creatures with tentacles for mouths and who like to communicate telepathically.

So far, so creepy. But we then skulk around in the dark for 45 minutes, having the heebie-jeebies put into us, as it becomes apparent that there’s something rather scary and demonic buried below the surface of the planet – something that’s already having a rather scary effect on the Ood, as well as the inhabitants of the mining colony.

I really, really liked this one. There were some genuinely frightening moments that should hopefully still have younger viewers traumatised. Direction, set design, effects, dialogue, plotting: all were first rate. And for the first time since the show came back last year, there was some decent, atmospheric incidental music that didn’t make you cringe in despair.

Billie Piper finally relocated her acting talent this episode and turned in a fine performance. David Tennant** was on good action hero form, but it was also nice to see the Doctor getting to be all scientific for the first time in 20-odd years, de-stigmatising maths for school kids everywhere and thus bumping up the UK’s future GDP by a couple of points. The cliffhanger was a little drawn out, but the impending coming of the Beast from the pit was a fantastic ending all the same.

All in all, it seems, much like last year, that it’s not till around episode eight that the production team really manage to get their groove back. But when they do, they really can turn in some fine tele. Unlike last year, though, which had about two episodes that I would voluntarily watch again (maybe only one, actually), there’s four from this season that I’d happily watch again, so clearly they’re improving as well.

One last thing: it seems that if you want to someone to do the voice of Satan and you want it done right, you need to hire Gabriel Woolf. Last heard on Doctor Who as the voice of Sutekh in Pyramids of Mars (Sutekh/Set/Satan – you see?), a performance that scared the bejesus out the nation and Mary Whitehouse back in 1975, the delightful 73-year-old made a triumphantly scary return as the voice of the Beast. I think he needs to start voicing his own greetings card range. He’d make a fortune.

PS: Not sure what long-term Who fans are going to make of a third explanation for Satan on the show***, but frankly who cares?

Footnotes to avoid my relentless parenthetic text

*Tooth and Claw was of the horror genre but not especially horrifying, unless you find the idea of a man turning into a wolf horrifying. Which it isn’t.

David Tennant as Casanova** Sigh. Here you go.

*** Fourth if you count The Awakening

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