Luke ON TV – Embarrassing Bodies, The Invisibles, The Inbetweeners, Peep Show, Property Ladder

The Invisibles

Ewww! I wouldn’t say I shock easy. TV has helped to desensitise me over the years. I can’t bare watching people being sick on or off screen. But I spent the majority of Monday’s Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies cringing. We got to meet a woman with what she described as a tail – and we were promised breasts on Tuesday, vaginas on Wednesday and men’s bits on Thursday. I can’t imagine who watches this. I guess there’s an innate morbid curiosity of not wanting to look but somehow you’re powerless not to be lured in. Actually, the tail wasn’t anything to worry about or cancerous, and is apparently very common. That’s news to me but I would hardly class this series as educational.

Ashley Jensen’s narration was the only good thing about this series but that might be more to do with the fact that I needed to cover my face with cushion a lot and so focused more on her for comfort. I calmed down a bit at the sight of the man with breasts as that seemed quite tame in comparison to the rest of the programme but that lulled me into a completely false sense of security as the following scene featured a woman with a flap of extra skin downstairs which I was assured by Ashley would be followed up in the vagina episode on Wednesday. I made a quick decision to be busy somewhere without a TV on Wednesday.

I’ll defend the majority of British television to anyone but I am worried that this unnecessary series made it on to primetime Channel 4 and was aired for four nights in a row!

After the sheer ewwyness of Embarrassing Bodies, I needed something soft to soothe the images of women with tails and men with… well, I can’t go through that again. The soft series I decided to try was BBC1’s new Thursday night dramedy The Invisibles. I’m a fan of New Tricks and this did sound like New Tricks with the scenery of Doc Martin thrown in.

The series centres on two criminals played by Warren Clarke and Anthony Head who return to live in the UK after years on the coast of Spain. Back in their day, they were the best in the biz and were dubbed The Invisibles. I wasn’t expecting riveting edge-of-the-seat stuff which is just as well as right from the slightly old fashioned title sequence I knew this wasn’t going to reel me in.

The whole thing felt very old fashioned and slightly overacted mainly by Head who seemed to have attended the Waking the Dead school of shouting as he brooded through each scene waiting for just the right time to bellow. Jenny Agutter was boring, and I didn’t care for Warren Clarke, leaving it to Dean Lennox Kelly to emerge as the best of the cast but he didn’t get much screen time till the final 15 minuets.

Unlike New Tricks, I didn’t find this very funny and the fishing village location (shot in Northern Ireland) wasn’t very interesting, either. I hope now that the threesome have found each other it’ll pick up – the lengthy extract of the next episode seemed like it may be a bit better so I’ll give it a second go but the main problem is that the main characters aren’t very likeable and it would be nice if they had more personality and charisma.

Things improved radically on Friday with the return of Channel 4’s best comedy in the history of laughter. Yes! Peep Show’s back!! I only discovered this gem last year but the complete DVD collection now sits proudly displayed on my shelf and I’m reliably informed that makes me immediately cool so way hey!

Most shows entering their fifth series would be showing signs of aging and losing the edge that made them so intriguing but that’s not so here. Thanks to the surreal brains of writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain and the always wonderful performances from David Mitchell and Robert Webb, Peep Show appears to be going from strength to strength at a stage when other shows wilt under the pressure.

The last series ended triumphantly with Mark and Sophie parting at the altar and this first episode utilised all the elements that makes Peep Show the hit it has become.

One perfectly Peep Showesque scene saw Mark apprehend an intruder by sitting on him and proclaiming: “I’m wrestling with the white working class. Morse never did this. I’m better than Morse”.

Meanwhile, Jez discovered he had chlamydia, which was just as cringeworthy and hilarious and you’d expect.

The world of Peep Show is surreal, of course, but the scripts and acting draw you into the world of Mark and Jez so well you don’t want to leave. David Mitchell recently said he’d like Peep Show to carry on for years and, if this is the standard they can keep it to, I’d be happy about that too.

And I now want a Megatron (the pair’s invention – the DVD, TV and Sky remotes all taped together).

The other new comedy I was curious to see this week was on E4. I detest its excuse for a teen drama, Skins, so I went into The Inbetweeners with some trepidation. Since Shameless (still arguably the best teen drama on TV), Channel 4 has tried (and failed) to replicate its success with Skins and Almost Famous and I assumed this was just another of their attempts to scrape that barrel.

I’m happy to report I was wrong. This was a teen comedy with bathroom humour you’d expect but also the intelligence you perhaps wouldn’t. It reminded me a bit of Malcolm in the Middle with the main character starting a new school, teased for being a “briefcase mong” but desperate for acceptance. It was really funny with the characters are completely believable and likeable. These were the teens I’ve seen and perhaps been and, unlike Skins, it painted a pretty solid picture of sixth form life.

The job of any episode is to make the viewer want to watch the next and this succeeded completely. If you were initially put off because you thought it was another immature teen comedy that would soon be forgotten, you might want to give this one a try. I can see this being a highlight of the week if the standard keeps up.

And now for a final rant. My Mum is mad on her property programmes. If it has someone buying a house, nosing round a house or doing one up I’m forced to either set the timer or watch them live. So over the years I’ve sat through a mountain of Kirstie and Phil and Sarah Beeney and I have to say after my defences were broken down I’ve actually started to enjoy them. But here’s my rant why, why oh why do the folk who apply to be on Channel 4’s Property Ladder never listen to Sarah?

It’s a real wonder the poor woman isn’t covered in bruises from constantly banging her head against a brick wall. That’s if the walls haven’t already been knocked down, of course. While my Mum’s watching the series to see how everything goes and how much they get for their property, I’m hoping the cocky devils who have never dabbled in the market and have not done an ounce of research into the market will fall flat on their faces and perhaps make a loss. It seems as soon they don a hard hat, they think they’re a seasoned property developer who know better than the expert they’ve been given.

When Sarah tells you need a downstairs bathroom to appeal to the family market, just put one in! She’s there to help and yet the majority of the novice developers seem to take her kind-hearted advice and experience as a personal attack. A recent episode saw a man buy a complete wreck and pluck his desired profit out of the air. We can all do that but its not property developing. Surely if you apply for the Sarah Beeney treatment, you’ve seen the programme before and seen folk fall flat on their face when they neglected to heed her advice, so why does it happen every time? And why does this make for such addictive strangely compulsive viewing?

I must give my BLACK PUDDING to the images in Embarrassing Bodies which are plaguing me and my joint CRUMBLETASITC to Peep Show for living up to my high expectations and to The Inbetweeners for being a funny and insightful surprise.

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