Tag Archives: sky1

Mad Dogs: Island hopping

(Series 2, Ep.1)  Even though we left Quinn in the swimming pool having just shot a policewoman, and his four mates in the car on the way to the airport not knowing if they’d get away, be arrested, be killed by gun-toting crazies wanting their drug money back or what, the first series of Mad Dogs felt complete in all its barmy, surreal magnificence.

So was it a good idea to go for a second series? Well, on the basis of the series opener, it was. Picking up literally where series one left off, there was no messing about and the body count was added to almost before the credits had finished rolling. Quinn is fished out of the swimming pool – still alive, which you wouldn’t have put money on – and the comrades-in-trauma decide to flee the island. The airport being deemed too risky, they head for a ferry to Barcelona, and then hopefully towards home. This being Mad Dogs, they get on the wrong ferry and land, instead, in Ibiza.

Any crazy ideas that Ibiza will be any more relaxing than Majorca are shortlived. The first task is a bit of money laundering, which is done via a strange old woman hauling an oxygen tank, an even stranger man on a moped and a beautiful girl who has perfect skin, fancies Baxter and seems to know way too much. Can they trust her? Can they trust each other? And what are they to make of Rick’s wife telling them that she’s recently had a phone call from Alvo? This is Alvo who had half his head shot off in series one, episode one. Alvo whom they buried right at the start of their holiday from hell.

Mad Dogs series one was suspenseful, weird, darkly funny and brilliantly acted. There was a risk that stretching the story out would dilute it or diminish its impact (I’m thinking of Lost and Heroes here) – but on the strength of this episode it looks like it was worth it.

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Mad Dogs: I want to cut his feet off, not butter him!

Now Mad Dogs has reached its conclusion, I feel the need to blog about it again (Jo the Hat reviewed the first episode here). The problem is that I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, which will be a fair few because of it being on Sky1.

Basically, you will want to get the DVD when it comes out. Seriously, you will. And you will want to see it without knowing anything about what happens, so if anyone tries to tell you, stick your fingers in your ears and shout “Blah blah blah!” very loudly until they stop, or until someone arrives with your medication.

It was, in a word, brilliant. Superbly acted by an all-star cast (Marc Warren, Max Beesley, Philip Glenister, John Simm and Ben Chaplin – now there’s an acting dream team), with Maria Botto as the most disturbing, sexy Spanish policewoman you could imagine, and Tomas Pozzi as a terrifyingly kinetic assassin. You could smell the suntan lotion and and practically see Marc Warren’s skin turning pink in front of your eyes. Feel the sense of mounting panic as the goat in the swimming pool in the first episode turned out to be a portent of far nastier things, and each character was forced to extremes. The final episode was the most tense thing I’ve seen in ages, and the ending, which I was worried would be a let-down, was anything but.

It’s not often that you get a drama that’s so beautifully written and acted, so bleakly dark but so funny at the same time. Genius.

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Louie Spence’s Showbusiness: Bring on the dancing horses

I know what Andrew Stone smells like. Sadly I can’t claim to have been within close sniffing range of the pop sensation. But he showed us what perfume he uses, and it’s Paco Rabanne 1 Million – the same one my dad got for Christmas. So I can confidently say that Andrew Stone smells like my dad, which is possibly a disturbing thought for all concerned.

This little piece of product placement (he uses Elnette hairspray as well, but who the heck doesn’t?) featured in a scene where Andrew was dolling himself up for a date. With a girl. She’d won him in a “meet Andrew Stone” competition, but even with that head start, it seemed that Andrew finds it difficult to relate to the ladies. If only they would all stop thinking he was gay, he might be in with a chance.

Meanwhile, we were introduced to the most bizarre, deluded and disturbing dance act since Ann Widdecombe. Black Lad is “the UK’s pre-eminent dancing horse.” And a big lad, he is too. His owner, Patsy, claims he’s “as sexy as Justin Timberlake,” which might be less disturbing if Black Lad wasn’t quite obviously hung like a horse.

His act involves walking about a bit while co-dancers Rachael and Kaylee, who are human but not particularly good at dancing, gyrate around him dressed as Cheryl Cole. There are also two people who may be children or just very short adults, wearing hats that look like they’ve been nicked from a passing Salvation Army band, who gyrate slightly further away from the horse. It’s not good, frankly, and things get worse when they turn up to a gig at an agricultural show. Black Lad doesn’t enjoy the rain and howling wind which has removed most of the adjacent marquees and practically all of the spectators. A commentator, cosily ensconced in a little caravan sums up the experience. “Oh, that’s disappointing,” he says.

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Lie To Me: How to spot a bank robber

First posted last year but re-posted now as Sky1 have generously decided to start the series from the beginning again.

(Series 3, Ep.1)  I think I may have a new favourite programme. I can’t think how Lie To Me has escaped my attention so far, considering it stars Tim Roth, who is one of my all-time favourite actors, but I’m glad I’ve belatedly found it (I might have to hunt down DVDs of the first two series now as well).

Dr Cal Lightman is an expert in body language and reading people’s faces. He uses this skill to help solve crimes – not only can he tell if you’re lying, he can tell if you’re really smiling at him even if you’re trying hard not to. It would be hard not to smile at Lightman – he’s rude, obnoxious, twitchy and completely charismatic. His work colleagues find him exasperating and a little bit scary – think of a blend of Malcolm Tucker, Alan Shore from Boston Legal, House, Al Pacino and Damon Albarn (looks- and accent-wise) and you’ve got something close.  I like that the character has an English accent though it’s an American programme.

The whole area of body language and non-verbal communication is fascinating, and it makes for a good twist on the standard crime-solving drama, and Tim Roth is fantastically watchable. I’m looking forward to the next episode already.

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Louie Spence’s Showbusiness: Return to Pineapple Dance Studios

I’ve only seen half of the first episode of Louie Spence’s Showbusiness (I’m forbidden, on pain of death, from watching it without PLA Jr, and she had to go to school) – but I’ve seen enough to know we can safely file it under the Pineapple Dance Studios category. “Change is good,” says Louie in his introductory spiel, “I like change.” But in fact this really is PDS Series 2, so little has actually changed. Even the opening credits are the same(ish).

Whether this turns out to be a good thing (the first series of PDS was, generally, brilliant) or a bad thing (the first series of PDS was flagging badly by the end of the run) we’ll have to wait and see.

So far in this episode we’ve been reacquainted with Louie’s nephew, the hunky Lotan, who is now one of the Dreamboys (ie he’s a male stripper, but at least it’s showbiz!).

Talking of showbusiness, did you know that it’s 90% business and 10% show? This information was brought to us by the eternally sparkly Andrew Stone, who provides the 10% while Starman’s manager Rob is the man charged with supplying the other 90%. No wonder Rob looks permanently about to cry, though he leaves the actual crying to Andrew, who is so much better at it. I can’t help loving Andrew, who could come across as a monstrous ego but has a charm and a vulnerability that come through at the same time.

I also love his bandmate Jesus (second from left in the photo), who is Spanish, sulky and has great rock & roll legs.

Posted by PLA       (posts about the first series of Pineapple can be found here)


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Pineapple Dance Studios: The grand finale

If any of our lovely readers attended the Pineapple Dance Studios grand finale show at the O2 I’d love to hear from you about what it was like.

Judging from what we saw on the telly, it all looked a bit shambolic and cheap. Fun, though. Where else could we enjoy a man who feels a particular empathy to lobsters leading a crowd in a pincer-waving dance? Or Louie Spence running around in his underpants (ok, just about everywhere on that one)?

The sets were almost non-existent and the costumes were of school panto standard. Andrew Stone was bedecked in spiky shoulder pads that looked like they’d been knocked up by year 5 with polystyrene and Bacofoil. The rest of Starman were rocking the Clockwork Orange look, though (I think I’ve fallen a tiny bit in love with Jesus as a result).

We didn’t get to see the whole show. “Highlights” were stitched together with clips about the preparations for the event, including such disposable moments as Tricia Walsh-Smith pretending to be in dispute with rap combo Wizard Sleeve for the privilege of an en suite dressing room rather than a curtained-off cubicle in a tent.

I can’t actually believe that the O2 only has three proper dressing rooms, but it’s pointless really to carp about details. Pineapple Dance Studios has never been a straightforward documentary. It’s been camp, frivolous and funny.

And, occasionally, it’s been properly emotional. Last night we saw Louie Spence rehearsing a dance that he wanted to perform in the O2 show to Elton John’s ‘Your Song’, to be dedicated to his husband. As we’ve seen previously, Louie is amazingly flexible and a very lyrical dancer, but he’s not as young as he was, and I think we saw genuine frustration when his rehearsals didn’t go as smoothly as he hoped. But in the show itself the dance was beautiful and moving.

I’m going to miss Pineapple (though Sky1 is already showing “Best of” shows), but I’m sure we’ll see Louie popping up everywhere for some time to come. As for Andrew Stone and Starman, they still haven’t given up on mega-stardom. Not while there’s breath in Andrew’s body.

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Strike Back: Started well, then got silly

Oh dear. I did wonder whether Strike Back was going to be my cup of tea, but I really wanted to like it. Admittedly this is mainly because I’ve been missing my regular dose of Richard Armitage since Spooks and Robin Hood finished.

It started promisingly enough, with an Iraq-based sequence which the Radio Times warned “wasn’t for the squeamish.” I don’t know whether they gave their preview DVD to Bambi, but there wasn’t anything particularly squeamish-making about it. It was very tense, however. Porter and his army buddies were faced with a young man with a bomb strapped to him and his finger on the trigger. Apparently the standard procedure in this situation is to shoot the person in the head, which will disable the trigger reflex. Porter, however, took hold of the detonator in the man’s hand and calmly cut the wire to the bomb. The bomber told Porter he owed him his life.

So far so good – there’s obviously more to Porter than your standard macho hero. It was all looking good for the character to be a conflicted type like (by some mysterious coincidence) Lucas in Spooks, or Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood.

Unfortunately as we leapt forward to the present day to find Porter now wearing a comedy wig and with his life in ruins because of his earlier experiences, it all started to get silly. I liked the scenes in MI6 because it was like Spooks (I’m sorry to keep banging on about it, but Strike Back kept reminding me at every turn about what a superior series Spooks is), but my interest waned as soon as they started training Porter back up to match fitness by providing him with some on-prescription sex and sub-Apocalypse Now “preparing for battle” scenes. Because only Porter was qualified to sort out a nasty situation involving a kidnapped journalist.

I’d love to tell you how part one ended, and I’d love to discuss part two (which was on straight afterwards), but I can’t, because I turned off about five minutes from the end of the first installment. That’s how bored I was getting. It’s quite possible it perked up in part two, with all the characters set up and so on, but I was past caring.

I’m just going to have to wait for the next series of Spooks.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Don’t frighten the fans

I think I’ve finally overdosed on Pineapple. The first episode of Pineapple Dance Studios that I saw was so funny and different that I distinctly remember thinking it should be on at least once a week for the rest of time. 11 episodes in out of a series of 12, and the novelty is wearing off.

My enjoyment is always in inverse proportion to the amount of screen time dedicated to the obnoxious Tricia Walsh-Smith, and the frankly dull Debbie “I am Pineapple” Moore. Last night’s episode featured too much of both. Tricia was filming yet another in a seemingly endless supply of music videos. This one involved her pretending to jump off a cliff. My thoughts were not charitable.

Debbie was busy with yet another in a seemingly endless supply of events to mark the umpteenth year since Pineapple opened. This time she commissioned a portrait of herself. I don’t know how much she paid for it, but my friend Christine’s son William (aged 12) could have knocked up a superior work for nothing more than his bodyweight in pick & mix. The best thing about this portrait was the reaction of Louie and Debbie’s daughter Lara. They’d agreed that if the picture was rubbish, Lara (who uses a wheelchair) would have a spasm. “It makes me feel… twitchy,” she commented, as Louie mugged for the camera.

Louie is always good value and he’s emerged from this series as a proper star, turning up on almost every light entertainment show apart from the election debates. But I can’t help loving the psycho-drama that is Andrew Stone.

Following last week’s “humbling” visit back to his Norwich roots, Andrew continued to spread the love this week by performing at an old peoples’ home, along with Starman keyboard player Craig. Andrew belted out some George Michael favourites to a couple of dozen elderly fans, some of whom were actually awake. He even got some of them clapping along to one of Starman’s greatest hits.

Andrew, who oozes sincerity like Cliff Richard on sincerity gas, was moved by the response. He’d also love to perform to children in hospital, he admitted, though of course when you’re dealing with people with such a tenuous grip on life, you can’t get them over-excited. Andrew thinks about things like that. He plans ahead.

He made more plans for the fame which he knows is just around the corner, by interviewing a personal security firm. They were fully aware of the dangers of superstardom, and quizzed Andrew as to whether he’d ever been mauled by a fanatical mob. “No,” he told them, but seemed quietly confident that such a mauling was an inevitable step in his career trajectory. It’s best to be ready.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Knowing me Alan Partridge, knowing you Andrew Stone

Andrew Stone went back to his roots. It’s only fair, when you’re a “pop idol in waiting”, to touch base with the folks who nurtured you when you were less famous than you are now. Plus there was a private pressing of his CD to inspect.

Andrew filled up a bit when he saw Starman’s new CD (available today! Get your copy while you still can!), and then duly lugged a box of them to his local shopping centre. He sat signing copies for handfuls of adoring fans, and even stopped to give a special rendition of Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Hello’ to one very lucky lady. We’ll forget the fact that he asked for a round of applause afterwards.

With apologies to the good folk of Norwich – when Andrew pitched up at a local hospital radio station, I couldn’t help but be reminded of that other son of Norfolk, Alan Partridge. Alan Partridge and Andrew Stone don’t just share a birthplace, they share the same desperation to be loved and admired, and that same quality of making it so obvious that they need to be loved and admired that it’s almost painful to watch.

Louie Spence also craves the spotlight, but it’s his anyway by sheer force of his personality. This week he danced in high heels, licked a carpet and gave his nephew Lotan some dancing tips. Louie’s job title is “artistic director”, but he seems to spend most of his time inspecting the toilets and rolling up blinds. It’s all just an excuse to show off to the cameras, and accompanied by Louie’s relentlessly funny commentary, it’s hilarious.

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Pineapple Dance Studios: Much highlier trained

Andrew Stone’s tips for enduring beauty: (1) A little bit of what you fancy does you good and (2) Aloe vera applied after shaving acts like a face-lift. Not that Andrew needs a face-lift.

What Andrew needed was a backing singer, following the departure of Rosalee. New bezzie mate Cleo Rocos trawled through her address book looking for likely duetting partners. “Lily Allen?” she pondered. Andrew was thrilled – Lily Allen would be perfect. Cleo disagreed. “Robbie Williams?” was her next suggestion, and Andrew was more than willing to countenance the Robster adding a few shoo-wops and aahs to the Starman sound (presumably as long as Mr Williams stayed at the back of the stage and didn’t hog the spotlight).

Cleo, however, had a better idea. David Van Day. You know – superstar David Van Day. He was in Dollar, and made a real arse of himself on I’m A Celebrity. Cleo felt he was rather like an older Andrew, and would be a splendid mentor. And once they met, Andrew had to agree. What a spiffingly brilliant, loving, giving chap David was (even though he criticised Andrew’s fashion sense and tried to get him to wear a suit, which Andrew felt would be a bit too Spandau Ballet). Yes, David’s a great guy, and very, very similar to Andrew himself. “Only I’m much highlier trained in dancing,” Andrew said. Of course he is. That’s a given.

This week we met Louie Spence’s nephew Lotan. He’s a 21 year old window cleaner, but he can do the splits almost as well as his uncle. In fact Lotan could be a pretty good dancer if only he could be faffed. Turning up at Pineapple for his first dance class in three years, Lotan found it hard to keep up with the people who – gasp – train there regularly. He wanted Louie’s partying with celebs lifestyle but wasn’t prepared to put the sweat in first, apparently.

Louie was meanwhile showing off his pirouetting skills while taking the piss out of a man who wanted to run a swordfighting class at the Studios. “I’m a fully trained baton twirler!” Louie chirped, spinning his wooden sword expertly round.  The swordfighting teacher didn’t share Louie’s sense of humour, and told him off for brandishing his weapon inappropriately.  He was never going to last long at Pineapple with that attitude.

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