Last week, BBC repeated Sport Relief Does The Apprentice and, like most, I’ve grown weary of “celebrity” specials. This year’s line-up wasn’t packed with as many familiar faces as the 2007 charity special but it turned out be one of the most entertaining hours of television I’ve watched in a while. It didn’t matter I hadn’t heard of the comedian in the turban or the control freak from Anne Summers because the whole thing was well done. Phil Tufnell really shone through for me and unlike Donald Trump on the original US version, Sugar plays the whole thing so cool he should be really strutting about the boardroom with Stayin’ Alive playing the background.
In contrast, the recent series of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice was full of contrived tension and pounding backing music that just made the whole thing feel staged and unreal. Trump (with daughter Ivanka by his side) takes his role far too seriously, pointing and grilling as his hair flaps all of the place. Sugar recently suggested a teen version of The Apprentice and I’m sure it would be worth a watch.
One of my favourite comedies of last year. BBC3’s Gavin & Stacey, has returned, getting a lot of attention, which it deserves. The characters are all so likeable there’s nothing not to like – except maybe the BBC3 logo which sometimes covers the faces of the characters.
The idea of two people meeting, falling in love and getting married isn’t a theme we don’t know inside out but this works thanks to wonderful writing and a cast of highly talented people who seem to fit perfectly in their roles. Rob Brydon’s Bryn is wonderful and his love of James Blunt (“the one about the wise man by the sea”) really made me laugh. Gavin & Stacey is completely believable and the writing is razor sharp. British comedy has taken a bit of a dip lately with the sketch show taking over but Gavin & Stacey proves the sitcom is alive and thriving.
What has happened to That Mitchell & Webb Look? I’ll always be a fan of the pair – we’ve been through too much together for me to walk away from them and their BBC2 sketch show now but this has really taken a drop in quality and, perhaps not surprisingly, in its ratings as well. David and Robert pride themselves on not repeating the same characters every week which after years of Little Britain and Catherine Tate is refreshing but over the past three weeks, have failed to make me laugh. A lot of the sketches drag on far too long and others don’t even make me smile. I’m not sure why this has declined so rapidly but its become a very average sketch show with far more bombs than belly busters. I’ll watch the last episode but with my expectations lowered. Roll on the fifth series of Peep Show!
Its not a sentence I say very often but I have a new favourite US reality series. It was a bit of a fluke that I stumbled across it. VH1, once only known for playing music videos, now produces very odd, cringeworthy reality series such as Flavor of Love (with the rapper and his big clock trying to find love) and a series that followed a member of the Brady Bunch and his model wife making their way down the aisle. Its new show, I Know My Kid’s a Star is perhaps the best. The series, hosted by the Partridge Family’s Danny Bonaduce, follows wannabe young stars and their over-protective parents as they fight to be Hollywood’s next Lindsay Lohan or those irritating happy kids from High School Musical. The parents are blind to what their talentless offspring are capable of and the kids are either timid and trying to please or so over the top you want to see them slapped with the nearest wet fish.
The term car crash television is used too often but this was truly it. I was unable to switch it off. One of the mothers, Rocky (that’s her name), struts around in a short skirt, cowboy boots and a hat, completely convinced her nine-year-old is the next big thing. She does have more talent than the others involved but if you’ve seen the show you’ll know that’s not that much of a compliment.
Unusually, this is a reality series that doesn’t rely on the usual tedious tension building and long pauses, choosing instead to show us more of the awful parents who make David Brent look like Richard Branson. There is an elimination at the end of every episode but I’ll be happy as long as the godawful Rocky stays.
I pride myself on not missing much on TV. Sad I know and it probably explains why I have no friends but I failed last year to watch BBC3’s Pulling. After seeing the series two opener, I’ve ordered the DVD of the first series. Sharon Horgan is brilliant and Pulling is another rare gem. Donna (Horgan’s character) stole the show, concerned that everyone around her was having more fun than she is. Pulling has its own unique style which is refreshing and, although this first episode was perhaps a little short on plot, it didn’t really matter as it is well paced and well written.
My CRUMBLETASTIC medal goes to VH1’s I Know My Kid’s a Star and the BLACK PUDDING goes to the gradual decline of the once reliable That Mitchell and Webb Look.
Feel free to leave your comments. Do you agree that Mitchell and Webb has lost its spark? Do you love the BBC sitcoms? Have you loved I Know My Kid’s a Star?