Daily Archives: February 26, 2010

True Blood 201: Bedtime at four a.m. and not a minute later

It’s back! And by crikey, it don’t mess around. Wonderfully, we arrive at the exact moment we left: with the discovery of a leg dangling lifelessly from Detective Andy Bellefleur’s car.

It's not Lafayette. He'd never have painted his toe-nails that tacky red

It's not Lafayette. He'd never wear such tacky red toe-nail polish

The first thirty seconds – before the credits roll – are a masterclass in Hammer House excitement. The chaos, the black humour, the fear: Tara panicking the body might be Lafayette’s; Andy, focusing as ever on the wrong thing (‘someone moved my car!’); Sookie gasping, ‘Check for a pulse’; Andy drily telling her there’s no need, there’s a massive gaping hole where the heart oughta be; Sam yelling, ‘It’s not Lafeyette’; Sookie sobbing, ‘Who is it?’; and Tara realising it’s Miss Jeanette and letting out the mother of all screams. My word, I had to have a lie-down after that and the programme hadn’t even properly started.

I’ve been trying to fill the True Blood gap ever since, like Andy Pandy, it waved goodbye last year.  Glee has helped, but as we tumbled once more into the looking-glass world of Bon Temps, I realised that, lovely as it is, Glee is just a methadone substitute. Nothing can compete with TB for sheer high-octane, suck-you-in-and-spit-you-out enjoyment.

So for starters, we had Miss Jeanette , mouth rigor-mortised into a terrorised silent howl. As Sookie said in her dopey way, ‘Someone just wanted to see her suffer.’ Well, yes, Sookie. Good to see you firing on all cylinders.

Believe me, your hair will need a little freshening when you've been around for a thousand years

We had Lafayette, alive thank the good lord, but chained to other prisoners in a dank dungeon, awaiting some horrible unknown fate. Pretty soon Eric appeared, wearing highlighting foil, making it clear what the fate was likely to be. And I don’t mean dark roots. I’m not worried about Lafayette, though. Worst-case scenario, he’ll be made into a vampire: a laid-back, jive-talking vamp with a penchant for gold lamé. That’s a happy bonus of this show. When your favourite characters get killed off, they’re likely to return, good as new, except with sharper teeth.

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Damages – Season 3 (1): Who’s in the dumpster?

arialbold has been an excited quivering wreck since discovering the third season of Damages was upcoming on BBC. With Glenn Close as ice-queen who-will-she-get-next NY lawyer Patty Hewes, nothing is ever what it seems.

With Damages, practically the only things you seem to be able to rely on are the opening titles which have passed unscathed through into their third series.  I figured everyone would want to copy The Wire and have their opening music covered by a different cool artist each series – but maybe with Damages they need to leave you something that tells you which way is up.

The other now perennial feature – which gets a tad annoying at times – is that whenever they cut to what will be the denouement which gets slowly revealed episode by episode, everything goes slightly off kilter, with washed out colour and “eek eek” music.  It’s a useful signalling device in case you wonder why the person you have just seen bouncing happily round the office is now dead in the dumpster and oh he’s alive again.

And as a piece of TV rhetoric it’s great – constantly changing your perspective on what you’re seeing as the backstory unfolds.  In other hands it could be poor – and it verged on the hammer whack when you saw loyal and much put upon Hewes associate Tommy Shayes (who sadly only has two acting styles – happily stunned or unhappily annoyed – and wears that David Steel sartorial suicide note, the white collar and coloured shirt) watching his name going up on the door of the firm alongside Patty Hewes’, all the while you knew, you just knew, it was going to be him in the dumpster.

And this is clearly the show to be on if you want to make a strong left-field career move.  Dunno who their acting coach is but boy are they worth it.  Glenn Close had already made great TV with The Shield, but season one showed Ted Danson was not Sam Malone.  Season two had William Hurt doing his best stuff since way back.  And now season three – Martin Short! Continue reading


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Lustbox: Mr Benn. And as if by magic…

Some may be a little surprised that I’m lustboxing a man whose appearance is frankly a little cartoonish. But since my first love was Marine Boy (oh how I longed for him to dump Neptina and her long slinky hair, the minx, share his oxy-gum with me and take me away from the tedium of primary school on the back of Splasher the dolphin. Or for him to whisk me away from home by judicious use of his propellor boots), a move from boy to man makes sense.

Mr Benn was on telly in the early seventies, but I’ve never forgotten him. In fact I think of the street where I live as being very much like Festive Road, although there is no number 52. I also live in the kind of town where it seems feasible that you could pop into a shop and be given a space suit to try on by an enigmatic shopkeeper without any conversation or explanation being necessary.

Mr Benn is a man of mystery to be sure, and you sense there is a desire for fun lurking behind that shy smile. Leading such a sensible life, yet yearning to rip off that black suit and stripy tie, toss off his bowler hat and put on a hot outfit that would make the Village People green with envy. Whenever I see an intelligent, thoughtful but buttoned-up sort of chap, I can’t help wanting to throw those pens out of his lapel pocket and unbutton him. 

And when I’m in a changing room trying on clothes, instead of frightening myself by looking in the mirror, I think of how much fun it would be to be joined by the lovely Mr Benn. 

I thought he was rather dashing as a cowboy. But he didn’t mind baring flesh either. Caveman, and sexiest of all – gladiator – stepping through that door into a fantastic adventure where he’d use his wits to solve a problem. What a man. What a hero.

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Coronation Street: The glorious Jackie Dobbs

I know she’s not everyone’s cup of acting tea, but I always love Margi Clarke’s appearances on Corrie as Tyrone’s mother, Jackie Dobbs.

Jackie has her own barmy code of conduct. It’s ok for her to steal her darling son’s honeymoon tickets at his wedding, but it is not ok for anyone else to do him wrong. And Molly has done Tyrone wrong. Crashing into the Corner Shop like a pink-haired stormtrooper, Jackie confronted her erstwhile daughter-in-law, rather marvellously calling her a “plate-faced slapper with elevator knickers.” Jackie knows the type, you see – Jackie is the type. If she ever gets hold of Kevin Webster, there won’t be much left of him apart from a few chest hairs and a smear of oil.

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