Tag Archives: ITV1

Jonathan Creek: A mediocre act

jonathan-creekIt is almost unheard of for a positive soul like myself to post two negative blog posts in a row, which is why I went for the safe option of reviewing Mr Creek’s all new adventure, comfortable in the fact that I had yet to sit through an episode that I hadn’t enjoyed.

The past tense is not accidental, it pains me to say. The preview promised the return of a mystery/comedy, but it failed to deliver on both, leaving a lacklustre hour of sadly predictable and cliche television.

The main gripe must of course be the fact that there wasn’t a mystery to solve. The episode centred around a hammy actress (kudos to the apt casting of a former Hollyoaks star here) who was stabbed in the street by the wife of a stage hand who fancied her. Instead of reporting the stabber to the police, she was persuaded to cover her injury up, with the help of a makeup artist who put prosthetic skin over the wound (honestly, I’m not actually making that up). Continue reading

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Scott and Bailey: “If she says it’s Wednesday, then it’s Wednesday”

Regular readers of pauseliveaction may recall our love for Scott and Bailey and our excitement at its return. Turns out, it’s back slightly earlier than expected. Who knew that ITV knew a good thing when they saw it?

For newcomers, Scott and Bailey is a series based around the activities of the Major Incident Team (which, as one character points out, seems to deal almost exclusively in murders) of a Manchester-based police force. Its particular focus is on two of its officers; Janet Scott (Lesley Sharp) and Rachel Bailey (Suranne Jones). At first glance you’d think it was the archetypal chalk/cheese pairing with a healthy dollop of Wimmins Ishoos. It’s true that the younger Bailey is at times the hotheaded counterfoil to the more centred and professional Scott and that we see much of their respective personal lives. But both characters are portrayed as rounded individuals, capable of the same flaws and talents as, well, anybody. Tribute must be paid to both the terrific acting of Sharp and Jones and also to the perfect casting. Sharp’s enigmatic stillness and Jones’ nervy, emotional intensity are perfect both for their individual roles and for each other. They are perfectly balanced and entirely believable as a partnership.

It also says much for the acting and writing that other characters get a chance to shine alongside such a strong central relationship. Amelia Bullmore is terrific as Scott and Bailey’s boss Jill Murray and again the fact that the senior figure is a woman is perfectly done in that it is believable but not overplayed. The episode begins in the toilets with Scott and Bailey psyching up Murray before she goes into front of the TV cameras. But  at the same time you feel that the only relevance of their gender to this scene is that they are all the same so can be in the same toilet. No jokes are made about women in charge by the respectful, professional men around them. However, the minute this is hinted at, this is slapped down. A special mention must also go to Pippa Haywood as the head of another police syndicate, whose outrageous banter with Murray is almost worth the asking price alone. Continue reading

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Coronation Street: Krazy Kirsty?

The moment Tyrone approached her in the quietest nightclub in the country and she eagerly got her claws into him, I knew there was something not right with Kirsty. She follows all of the Street’s regular rules for being an established psychopath and I can guarantee that within six months from now, she will be driving her cop car into a canal with Tyrone and Tina tied up inside or she’ll be blowing up the garage.

How do I know this? Well, just take a look at the quirks and rules followed by previous Street fruitcakes and see how many boxes loopy Kirsty ticks…

Corrie Psycho Rule Number One: Develop an inexpicably over the top obsession in a somewhat bland love interest. Let’s face it, despite his adorable, teddy bear-esque nature, Tyrone is no oil painting. He’s not really even a Crayola Wax crayon scrawl. Sure, there are many women who would love to give him a hug and tell him that there is someone out there for him, but not many would be willing to actually BE that woman. Well, Kirsty isn’t just being that woman, she’s excelling to the point where she wants to spend 24 hours of each and every day in his company. Maria and Molly couldn’t even cope with evenings in front of the box with him! So is Kirsty besotted and sees a side in the bumbling mechanic that no one else does or is she several tangerines short of a fruit basket? Continue reading

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Downton Abbey: Carry on Upstairs, Downstairs

Oh I say, I've gone all tingly below the Siegfried Line

I’m not an uncritical fan of Downton Abbey, but I have to say, this Christmas special was brilliant festive telly. It had about fifteen simultaneous plots snatched from the likes of Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, Enid Blyton and Barbara Cartland. For our viewing pleasure we had:

  • a murder trial, mention of which was being suppressed by The Press along with the Downton dead-Turk-in-a-bed sex scandal
  • the machinations of a charming bounder fortune hunter
  • the lingering family aftermath of a ‘phoney’ deathbed marriage
  • the thwarted ambitions of a talented cook
  • the stealing of a beloved family pet
  • the birth of a baby across the class (and Irish sea) divide
  • a convoluted love triangle involving a dead woman

Oh yes he did

All of these were woven neatly around use of the newfangled ‘game’ popular in 1919, the Ouija board. This was used as a veritable deus ex machina. Never has a glass being shoved about willy nilly done so much to promote the speedy tying-up of loose plot ends. I’m not sure if whole words were written on that board, but it seemed to communicate complicated messages at impressive speed. The Downton Abbey protype of Twitter perhaps?

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Doc Martin: Bad (bedside) manners

I’ve always had a soft spot for Martin Clunes, he seems such an affable chap in the main, but in Doc Martin he plays the opposite of that, and does it very well. Martin Ellingham is a brilliant, grumpy, misanthropic doctor who, having failed as a surgeon because of his fear of blood, has come to work as a GP in the beautiful Cornish village of Portwenn (actually filmed in Port Isaac). The village is populated by a roll call of truly splendid and dysfunctional characters, including Selina Cadell, who plays Sally Tishell, a somatising pharmicist in love with Dr Ellingham, as well as PC Joe Penhale, an agoraphobic police officer. Martin’s aunt Joan also lived in the village (played by the terrific ‘Tenko’ actor, Stephanie Cole), and during earlier series’, Martin has fallen in love with the local primary headmistress, Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz).

But their on/off relationship is doomed because he is incapable of sustaining a normal relationship. However, during the last series Louisa became pregnant with his baby, and in this new series, despite the fact they are no longer seeing each other, they are very bound up with each other after the birth of their little baby boy (not yet named since they can’t agree). This at a time when Martin has just overcome his fear of blood sufficiently to have bagged an excellent promotion to a surgical position in London. Sadly, the wonderful Stephanie Cole is no longer in the programme, as we discover when we hear PC Penhale telling Martin that his auntie Joan has died of a heart attack. Poignant and sad as this moment is, I was most up-cheered by PLA subsequently telling me that Stephanie Cole has moved on to a role in Corrie, and is utterly splendid in it. But of course.

Anyway, the new Portwenn GP turns out to be very far from satisfactory, so at the end of episode one, it looks unlikely that Dr Ellingham will be going anywhere. And I’m most up-cheered to see that a new aunt, Ruth, will be arriving next week, in the form of Eileen Atkins.

Posted by Inkface

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Appropriate Adult: Prurient or insightful?

It’s a tricky one, portraying serial killers in a TV drama. Especially on a channel which has ad breaks every five minutes. Wrecks the rhythm of the writing, the tension and the story arc with shite trivia and massively annoying jingles. I did a stupid thing and watched Appropriate Adult during a middle-of-the-night bout of insomnia, which made it all the more freaky.

But the point is, life isn’t simple. Villains do not look like Dick Dastardly, and serial murderers may have got away with murder for so long in part because they can be charming and funny. And they don’t look like Steve Buscemi. At times in this drama, and this may seem an odd thing to say, there was humour, of a very dark nature. Plus ordinary, everyday stuff, which made it all the more difficult to stomach.

Do I feel sorry for families of the victims, who may find it hugely difficult to be reminded of Fred West’s actions? Yes, of course. It must be grindingly grim. But to be fair, Appropriate Adult isn’t a dramatisation of the murders. Instead, it shows the unfolding of a series of police interviews, attended by the rooky ‘appropriate adult’ Janet Leach, (played very well by Emily Watson), where Fred West admits to his crimes and hooks Leach in, by sharing titbits of information with her, knowing she is bound by confidentiality and not in a position to pass them on.   Continue reading

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TV Drama News: Scott and Bailey ride again

Regular viewers of pauseliveaction (hi Mum!) may remember our love of Scott and Bailey during its run of six episodes earlier this year. We were thrilled by its excellent stars Suranne Jones, Lesley Sharp and the terrific Amelia Bullmore, captivated by the intricate twists and turn and above all pleased as punch that such a realistic, level-headed portrayal of women in the workplace, their capabilities and how they relate to each other had somehow found its way onto primetime ITV.

"For when shall we three meet again?!" "October 2011, actually - don't be late."

Others agreed, with the programme averaging viewing figures somewhere between 6 and 7 million. This is no mean feat for a Sunday night, particularly as it regularly beat much-trumpeted BBC productions such as Case Histories and Stolen. And thankfully, ITV have now shown that they feel the same by announcing that Scott and Bailey will be returning to our screens for an extended run of eight further episodes. The same cast will feature, with the intriguing prospect of Amelia Bullmore contributing more to the writing.

Production will begin in October, with transmission due sometime in 2012.

ITV have also announced that Vera and Monroe will also be returning to our screens. When added to recent high-quality BBC productions such as The Hour, The Night Watch, The Crimson Petal and the White and The Shadow Line,  it certainly seems to be a very encouraging time indeed for good television drama and fans of it. Long may it continue.

Posted by Velocity Girl

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