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Monkey Magic

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They’re back! The best double act on the telly.

Yes Al and Monkey have returned in fine form in an ad so good that I’m actually fast forwarding the breaks at a slower speed in the hope of catching it.

At least I was but until I found it on You Tube and watched it over and over until it had lost its magic.

Undaunted though, I then watched all the old ITV Digital ads again. Funny as they were, they didn’t shift enough set boxes did they? As much as I love the new ad it’s unlikely to make me switch to PG from my lovely Yorkshire Tea.

Another nail in the coffin of the sitcom

The casting of Nicholas Lyndhurst in Fred Barron’s latest comedy by committee After You’ve Gone merely served a reminder that sitcoms were far funnier in the good old days.

Useless dad Jimmy Venables (Lyndhurst) has two months to prove he’s not a useless parent while his ex-wife is off do-gooding in Africa. The fly in the ointment is that he’s also saddled with the mother-in-law from hell. Sound hilarious doesn’t it?

Perhaps those of you who love My Family will love this and in particular Ryan Sampson, whose character seems remarkably similar to one Kris Marshall used to play.

It wasn’t just that absence of funny bits that left me perplexed but the casting, as nobody with possible exception of Celia Imrie seemed comfortable in their role. As if the lack of humour or anything of vague interest wasn’t enough there was also prewatershed bad language that would be bad enough even if there’s been any reason for it and there wasn’t.

Another year, another spoof chat show

The Pub Landlord is one of my favourite live acts but somehow he never comes across anywhere near as funny on the box.

Al Murray’s Happy Hour is the latest attempt to transfer the character to the small screen and though it was good in parts it was unsatisfying as a whole.

The attempt to shoehorn as many gags as possible into the chat part of the show left the guests ill at ease and occasionally trampling over Al’s punchlines and in that regard the format seems flawed, with the host not showing the sort of control that previous hosts of this style of show – Mrs. Merton, Dame Edna, Keith Barrett – have managed.

Perhaps he’ll grow into it but for me his Paramount show Edinburgh and Beyond, a showcase for some of our best stand ups, has been his finest hour.

Meanwhile someone should point out to guest Katie Melua that nine million bicycles in Beijing certainly isn’t a fact and at best it’s just a very rough approximation. Presumably the editor of the show isn’t a fan bearing in mind that only 48 seconds of it were included in the show.

All Goran and gore

It was all hands to the pump as ER returned to the aftermath of last season’s shoot-em-up cliffhanger.

Barely had the dashing Luka stopped having a fit himself before he was thrown back into harness to save lovable admin bloke Jerry. Even the plucky Croatian has to admit defeat sometimes though and it wasn’t long before he was forced to take a back seat while the useless Morris was forced to take over.

No rest for poor Luka though because Abby and the baby were in big trouble and what followed was probably the bloodiest birth scene since Caligula was a boy, while the only respite for that gory scene was cutting to scenes of Jerry’s considerable midriff being carved open while the police pursued Nurse Sam and her loopy ex with considerably spectacular results.

It was all very frenetic and exhausting to watch and it soon became obvious that someone wouldn’t make it to the second episode though just who that was and how was a proper shock.

Nice as it was to have it back, I still prefer the pace of the emotionally angst ridden but witty Grey’s Anatomy.

Oops

I think I stated that Tupele had been eliminated from Soapstar Superstar last week when she only very nearly had. Sorry, that’ll teach me not to watch three reality shows and type an article at the same time.

To be honest I found it really difficult to stay with the show, partially due to the standard of the acts but mainly because the judges inane comments that have got right on my nerves. What qualifies the almost forgotten Martine McCutcheon to be on the panel? She’d be more suited as a contestant.

Shame

Shameless burst back on to our screens with a couple of major differences. Sadly Kev and Veronica bowed out and were only briefly seen in a barmy buy-a-baby plot. Then the vicious Maguire clan took centre stage and what has always been in an in-yer-face sort of drama seemed to lose what had made it special. Its heart.

There are still the outrageous moments, a dead dog and a baby peeing in policeman’s tea to name but two. However it’s harder to get way with that sort of content without the feeling of love and family loyalty that used to run through this show like Blackpool in a stick of rock.

It was entertaining enough in its own way but there was a bit of a feeling of “been there, done that” about it and there can only be so many situations in which seeing Frank semi-conscious in a pool of his own vomit can prove to be entertaining. The opener also suffered badly through lack of Sheila and it was her appearance in the trailer for the next episode that raised our hearts here at Hogan Towers and sent us scurrying to E4 in the hope that things would pick up.

The show remains one of the better dramas on the box but the first few series set a high standard and it seems that is proving very difficult to maintain.

Both use and ornament

Now cheerful Charlie Stubbs may have deserved everything he got but do we really need Coronation Street to be quite so violent?

It started with Charlie’s uncompromising beating of Peter Barlow, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in an episode of The Sweeney, and to be perfectly frank is precisely the kind of content that should be screened after the watershed.

Charlie’s comeuppance at the hands of the deranged Tracy-Love was no less brutal though it really did look like she was beating him to within an inch of existence with a British Soap Award which I suppose proves that those seemingly worthless trinkets are useful for something.

It would have been far more fun if Charlie’s exit had been a whodunnit but I suppose Emmerdale stole their clothes on that one. It seems a bit odd though because they seemed to spend much of the back end of last year dishing out motives to do him in.

Even more disturbing than the outbreak of violence was Norris’s evil intent as he brazenly cheated at the Rovers Pub Quiz, though you still have to wonder how his team managed to win after the music round. Who is the hip-hop expert, Rita or Emily? I think we should be told.

It could be just me but recent arrival Carla Connor is getting right on nerves. Two questions. Did they have to make her so smug? Why hasn’t Jason Grimshaw recognised her yet?

All hail Tracey the barmaid

Yea! Tracey the barmaid got a line this week in EastEnders. It’s such a rare event that it’s always worthy of a celebration. Fair play, she did mumble it a bit and it was so unmemorable that I’ve forgotten what it was she actually said but it was a line none the less.

They should give Tracey, Winston and all the other background characters that never get a look in their own daytime soap. Sure to be a ratings winner that one.

Meanwhile Sonia “Fists of Fury” Fowler continues to protest her innocence despite the fact that we all know that she sent Pauline to that great launderette in the sky. Or did she? “She’s in the pit” we all shouted as she hid from Britain’s least thorough detectives in Phil’s garage. “She is the pits” would have been just as appropriate.

The week ended with Jane getting the award for world's worst babysitter by leaving her charge in the hands of a desperate woman on the run from the police and then being surprised when she does a runner with the kid. No judgement, that woman.

Not so super scheduling

Channel 4 viewers are used to the sporadic scheduling dished out to Smallville but the show had been a fixture in the E4 line up every year until this season was due.

Now fans have left high and dry as rumours abound at season six will not now air until the summer at the earliest. Sadly this means that unless they go and live under a rock for a few months, fans will find it difficult to avoid spoilers before they actually get to see the shows.

If our broadcasters really want to keep viewers who may be tempted to illicitly download shows rather than wait, they really need to air these shows as close to their US air dates as possible.

Bits n Bobs

Anyone else terrified that Hannah Waterman might burst into song during Holby City? I was actually hoping that Ade Edmondson would after his heroics on Fame Academy a couple of years ago.

My daft notion that Vaughn might have been involved in Tom King’s death prompted a few more suggestions for people that might have done it but aren’t in the official suspect list. The most interesting suggestion was that Charity might have sneaked back to do the dirty deed. The weirdest one was that Tootsie did it.

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