Let’s talk televisuals..

Ugly Betty, Final Season (Series 4), ABC Wed 10pm
February 11, 2010, 10:40 pm
Filed under: Clip, Comedy, GENRE, SPECIAL FEATURES | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ugly Betty

Beautiful on the inside...

Last month, the somewhat inevitable demise of ‘Ugly Betty’ was announced to American audiences amid falling audience numbers and network indifference.

The news was met with some surprise, but general opinion was that the residents of Mode magazine should hang up their Manolos and close final issue. The decision to axe the show will be met with great upset by its hardcore elite following. This could get ugly…

The sad fact is that over four seasons, it has found itself a loyal following and has let its core characters develop and mature into fully three-dimensional beings – especially Betty.

She has loved and lost (Henry and spoiler alert, Matt) and has moved from her home she shared with Ignacio, Hilda and Justin to her own apartment over the hall from the brilliant double act of Marc and Amanda. She has more power in her new position at Mode as part of the editorial and boss Daniel helps her out whenever she needs that all important American (cheese alert) sitcom pep talk.

Of course the usual mishaps, mini-dramas and boardroom farces swirl around Betty and most of them are solved by the end of the episode. The tying up of loose plot strings has made the show so comfortable to watch but at a fairly swift pace, kind of the anti ‘Lost’.

Back when ‘Ugly Betty’ began some four years ago, it was seen as something of a breath of fresh air from the years of photogenic teens and botoxed women that had filled up the airwaves previously. Here was an ordinary character who wasn’t size zero, lived in Queens and, shock horror, was Latina. America Ferrera, who plays Betty, is, of course, far from ugly and possesses comic timing that could give the Anistons and Braffs of this world a serious run for their money. And that goes for style too..

Betty’s outfits have benefited from the direction of the legendary Patricia Field (she of Sex and the City fame), who has made sure her lead character always looks like an explosion in an accessories factory, but well put together none-the-less.

This season we have had: cults, long lost sons, prison breaks, extortion attempts and, best of all, drag acts taking off Wilhelmina and it’s only episode 12! Just what the remaining ten or so episodes have to offer is any one’s guess, but make sure you tune in wearing your finest poncho.

By Andrew Collier


Being Human, BBC Three, 11.30 pm
February 8, 2010, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Clip, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, GENRE, Horror, SPECIAL FEATURES | Tags: , , , , ,

Being Human

Ain't nothing human about this crew

It’s all going on in the West Country…

You see, there’s this flat-share with a ghost, werewolf and a vampire…and it’s all set in suburban Bristol. That must have been an interesting pitch meeting at BBC Three headquarters, nevertheless, ‘Being Human’, the channel’s pitch-black drama punctuated with laugh out loud humour has made it to its second series, with a third recently commissioned.

The set-up of the show is brilliant – mixing the supernatural with the relatively mundane nature of day-to-day flat-sharing such as a minor obsession with ‘The Real Hustle’ and the drinking of endless cups of tea.

But this really wouldn’t make for an exciting hour of television, and so Being Human is packed with drama – everything from death trying to track down the resident ghost, Annie, to the attempted ethnic cleansing of so-called evil werewolves and vampires by a group of religious nut-jobs.

And so to the most important part of what makes ‘Being Human’ such  abusive boyfriend in the first series and subsequently he rents out the house they shared to George and Mitchell, the hairy and toothy ones and so the ‘Terry and June’ set-up with added blood lust ensues.

Annie is bubbly, slightly dizzy and spends the first series trying to work out why she hasn’t passed over to the other side and is stuck in her Bristol-shaped purgatory. George the werewolf is sensible, neurotic and fond of list-making, making him the Monica of the group if this were Paranormal Friends.

The third part of the picture is made up of the louch and troubled vampire Mitchell, a man trying to conquer his insatiable lust for blood whilst exhibiting a natty line in jackets.

The way that the three characters bounce off each other is fantastic viewing, and the humour peppered in the script is a welcome relief from the frequent blood-letting and dark plot.

The second series is currently half way through its eight episode run and offers up new twists every week, meaning that there is definitely life in the old werewolf/vampire/ghost (delete as applicable) yet.

By Andrew Collier

Big Love, HBO
...Just be good to me..

...Just be good to me..

When you think the American Dream – big family, nice house and healthy bank account spring to mind, right? If you multiply them by three you get Bill’s family.

Born a mormon in a polygamist compound, he is used to this way of life. But it wasn’t always this way – he was thrown out in his teens and went on to live a normal life with his beloved wife, Barbara and two lovely children. Unfortunately, Barb got sick and found out she was unable to conceive again. So, as you would, they decided to take a second wife, Nicki. She took care of Barb and the children and had some of her own.

This set-up would seem enough for any man to cope with as a lover and provider. Cue, Margene – the innocent, sexy and slightly wild daughter of a Las Vegas bar girl. These three wives love the bones off their man and take care of their family as a sisterhood – Barb being the leader.

Slightly uncomfortable for an audience that is unfamiliar with the polygamist ways, this is still strangely addictive. Lifestyle choices aside, this ever-expanding family outcast from their mormon roots have many normal issues that any unit or institution would have. We watch as they try and cope with normal family problems and all evils and sin that come from the ‘righteous’ compound, run by prophet Roman Grant (Nicki’s Dad).

Confused yet? Agreed – it is a pretty complicated storyline and I think this is where they fall short. Below, is a complete summary from youtube. I could write for yonks about all the different characters but that would take all night. You wonder if there is the need for such complexities.

Saying that, the acting is superb and the characters have many dimensions to them. One of my favourite’s is Nicki Grant, the middle wife played by Chloe Sevigny. She is prim and proper and the only wife brought up on the compound. Her behaviour is rigid and her sexuality suggests frigidity, but it turns out there is a wild side to her just dieing to get out. Secretly, she takes the morning after pills, goes undercover at the courts to help her Dad escape jail and falls in love with the very man trying to prosecute him.

If you liked Sopranos, you will enjoy Big Love. For it has all the stylised shots, complex storylines and unusual dynamics that make it a pleasure to cut yourself off from your own life for an hour.

Britain’s Got The Pop Factor… And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice

I have a strong suspicion that Peter Kay made a bet with Simon Cowell that the general public will buy into absolutely any gimmick at Christmas time. The Bolton Comedian hasn’t written anything in four years and then all of a sudden comes up with this one-off spoof of all the talent shows on television.

It was about time somone took the piss out of the mass of civilian-entertainment series we have on now, from X factor to Strictly Come Dancing. But what a letdown this was – it could have been so much more. 

You all know the secret behind legendary spoofs such as Spinal Tap and Best In Show is how deadpan the actors can be in ludicrous situations. But the performances in Kay’s attempt were stiff rather than satirical. This includes the judges Dr Fox, Peter Waterman and Nicki Chapman and the host, Cat Deeley – what was she thinking??

Celeb cameos Paul McCartney, Lionel Blair and Rick Astley gave little enhancement but were, actually, not the highlight. The most entertaining part was the medleys. For instance Geraldine sang Born to Run which turned into Born Free, then Free Nelson Mandela…ella..ella…ey…ey..under my umbrella…and then….well look at the youtube clip below. The funniest thing about the entire event is the title. The saddest is Geraldine’s album already on sale and her dull single, ‘The Winner’s Song’ appearing at number six in the charts.

If you’re in a bad or grumpy mood and want something to moan about, download this.

Cutting Edge: The Virgin Daughters, Channel 4
And they called it Papa love

And they called it Papa love

To most Europeans a purity pledge is an unusual occurence. In fact, some would consider it a small cult practice. But actually one in six American girls make the promise to remain a virgin until their wedding day, or even wait for their first kiss. And this cutting edge documentary talks to some of the fathers and daughters before and during a purity ball in Colarado Springs.

They seem more like vanity pledges for the father than a pledge of abstinence for the daughter. One father explains, “Wouldn’t it be great to say that you’ve only ever kissed one man?” Honestly? No! Then his daughter explains the process she will have to go through: find an appropriate guy…bring him back to meet her father…have chaperoned dates or if they are lucky, spend time alone as long as the parents are in earshot. Like a stag, you wonder if the father would only approve of someone who won’t threaten him.

One of the mother’s makes a good argument – she doesn’t want her children to catch sexually transmitted diseases or get cervical cancer. It doesn’t justify the control and restraint over these children but it is easier to see her logic than her husbands.

Father and daughter sign the pledge

Father and daughter sign the pledge

Until you hear Jessica’s story – a girl who didn’t manage to stick to her pledge and eventually got pregnant. Her story is heart wrenching, especially when she innocently explains how she had sex (at 19), “It just happened.” Making the important point: sex is natural and if you try and deny it to consenting adults, there could be consequences.

If you take for granted that we live in liberated times (especially women) then you should catch this on the Channel 4 website (click picture for link). If you ever moan that your dad doesn’t give you enough love or attention – WATCH THIS! When you see the eerie, cringeworthy way the fathers looking adoringly into their daughters eyes, you will never complain again.

Have I Got News for You, BBC1 and Dave


Here they come, the informative ones

Here they come, the informative ones

I have a confession – I’m in love with Ian Hislop. Please don’t cringe but it’s true. Despite his short body, nik nak head and smug facial expressions, I find him very sexy. He is the James Bond of brains. You know that he could talk his way out of any bad situation with his charisma, intellect and sense of humour. He is also committed, being the only person to appear in every single episode of Have I Got News for You. Anyway – gush over!

For those unfamiliar with the show, it’s another top British celebrity panel show. The format: a satirical look at current affairs. Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye and Paul Merton, comedian are regular panelists whilst the host changes each week and has included everyone from Brian Blessed to Jeremy Clarkson.

Just ending its 35th series, our resident political mockers are partnered each week with a guest panelist from the world of journalism, politics or comedy. This is great because obviously these three schools offer a very different perspective on the world, so very episode is original.

One of the best rounds is The Odd One Out. This consists of four pictures that are all connected in some preposterous way, except one of them is (shockingly) the odd one out. For instance, you have the Cheeky girls, Sacha Baron Cohen, Prince Charles and Vlad the Impaler. The odd one out is Sacha Baron Cohen because he had rented property in Transylvania (to film Borat), the rest own property. Another great one is when all of them have been attacked by a dog except for one – he had been killed by his dog.

Have I Got News For You is one to watch with your partner with a nice cuppa tea. Grown out of Newsround? This is actually a great one if you want/need more know how on politics but just haven’t got the attention span for the news yet. So, if you’ve just got out of Uni and need to rear yourself off Teletubbies, flick on to Dave and give this a go.

For the slightly older members of the hard working tax-payers (in your 20s and 30s), this will lighten your news-filled anxious head. Or maybe you’ll merely appreciate the basic function: it’s hilarious. Here is a recent montage of Ann Widdecombe as guest host.

Trivia: HIGNFY is to be rebranded into the UK version of the US website the Onion.

More Trivia: The BBC has signed it up for 38 series.