Daily Archives: January 13, 2012

Eternal Law: The Difficult Second Episode

Yes, it’s Difficult Second Episode week. Viewers who have stuck with you past your the first episode will be looking to be entertained enough to stay with you to the end (in a good way, not a “Bloody hell, might as well see where this ends now I’ve wasted three weeks on it” way).

I’m enjoying the quiet quirkiness and warm heart of Eternal Law. Sam West is a joy to watch as Zak, and he’s been gifted some lovely dialogue by Matthew Graham and Ashley Pharoah. And yet, gentle reader, I worry for Eternal Law.

Casting around t’internet, there are people who think it’s too silly or too dull. I can’t agree with the ‘silly’ people – I’m willing to buy into angels covertly helping humans. That’s no sillier than a dead policeman conjuring up his own personal limbo for other dead coppers…

So, is it dull? That’s not the adjective I’d choose, but I can see why you  might reach for it when both EL’s cases of the week have been so predictable.

It was clear from the beginning that the only villain in this piece was Richard (Tobias Menzies doing his creepy vulpine thing). That’s not to say that there aren’t divorcing parents out there who won’t benefit from a reminder that they should be going to court for what’s best for their child, not to punish their ex. And I enjoyed the judge’s King Solomon moment as he made his final decision – though I don’t suppose Social Services appreciate being used as a stand-in for the whole ‘chop the baby in half’ solution.

I could do with a bit more of the supernatural too. I appreciate that it can’t be all wings and heavenly CGI, and I like the extra pressure on Zak not to be tempted by Hannah (one more angel leaving Heaven and Mr Mountjoy may give up on the human race completely – though why we should get the blame for the angels I’m not quite sure…), but I’m not feeling the threat of armageddon yet.

Until I start caring about anyone other than Zak, there’s no real jeopardy (or long-term interest). I’m not giving up on Eternal Law yet though. I stand by my statement that it shouldn’t be judged too fast or against Those Other Shows. For now Sam West’s luminous performance is enough to bring me back next week – but if Eternal Law wants a longer run than six episodes it will need more than one stellar actor.

Posted by Jo the Hat

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Podcasts: The Slate Culture Gabfest

For a long time podcasts were a mystery to me. They were mentioned on the BBC website so were sort of mainstream, but why would you need them with Listen Again? And anyway who had time to feel even more of a fogey trying to learn the next new technology? More recently, thanks to the Guardian and the estimable US webmag Slate, it began to dawn on me what gems I was missing. You don’t even have to go and find podcasts but can arrange for them to come straight to your computer. Or even to your phone! Sometimes the modern world is so wonderful I can hardly stand it.

For all the newness of the technology though it’s also a case of plus ça change, and good podcasts can become as essential a part of one’s life as TV and radio classics. I remember watching Nationwide as a kid. Every few weeks someone would write in to say they hadn’t missed a show since 1969 and how great was that? The seventies were obviously a barren period but still, they must (I thought) have had f*** all to do if they were  tuning into Frank Bough every night.

It was a shock then to realise that I have become one of those people who never misses my favourite programme. The show concerned is Slate’s culture chat podcast, the Culture Gabfest, and I have a 100% record since the middle of 2009. Not due to some anal completism you understand and not, of course, due to having an otherwise boring life, but simply because it’s so good there’s no reason to miss it. Ever. Not unless you’re actually dead, and even then I expect Apple are currently working on a gadget for streaming audio in the afterlife. I just hope Steve Jobs is making a fuss about the quality of the celestial interface device. Maybe Hell is simply not having this pop up in your iTunes every Wednesday.

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The Great Sport Relief Bake Off: BBC Celebrity Special


Sports and cakes? Do they go together? I think not. And I’d have to seriously question the ‘celebrity’ bit of this, since I hardly recognise anyone, apart from Angela Griffin, Arlene Phillips and Fi Glover. But I’m enjoying it hugely. Why? Because they’re being set tasks most primary school kids would expect to do in a cooking lesson, (eg cheese scones), and despite that, they’re mostly crap, that’s why.

The woman who plays the shop assistant in Miranda tipped a ton of red colouring into her electric mixer for her revolting looking ‘red velvet tray bake’, turned the mixer on, then splattered red slop over herself and everything around her. Then she created an accidental snowstorm with icing sugar and a fast moving whisk attachment. That never happens on the main series of the Great British Bake Off. The contestants are far too good, too practised and perfectionist for that sort of thing.

And by ‘that sort of thing’ I mean what I sometimes do when I cook. I was employed as a chef once and I sent watercress soup squirting with vivid green splendour up the walls of a very posh kitchen when I forgot to put the lid on the blender. Twice. Oh yes.

It seems that many of these ‘celebrities’ never bake in real life at all. Arlene Phillips got herself into somewhat of a pickle. Angela Griffin was pretty darn good, and is in the final tonight. Fi Glover and Anita Rani too.

Sadly there is no Sue Perkins in this. And the banging on about baking cakes to raise money for Sports Relief gets a bit tedious (fine cause though it is of course). I love seeing the wonderful Mary Berry and rather foxy Paul Hollywood looking on with pained sorrow at times, when all of the banana chocolate cakes are so bad as to be inedible, or pastry sticks to the surface, quiche sticks to the flancase, or someone makes a prawn meringue, yes you heard that right. Truly, madly, horrible. But brilliant.

The celebrities flail around like helpless, hopeless mortals who normally buy Mr Kipling slices. God bless them, one and all.

Posted by Inkface

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Filed under Cooking shows