Nineties TV Weekend (Is It Sunny Out?)

For some reason, in between bouts of sitting on the roof playing Scrabble in the sun, it’s been a bit of a nineties TV weekend. We’ve had too much sun the last two weekends anyhow…

First up has been American Gothic – a Twin Peaks-esque horror/supernatural series from the mid-90s that starred Gary Cole as the excellently ambiguous Sheriff Buck. A great character study in how people deal with someone who’s obviously the embodiment of evil, yet who’s consistently nice and helpful to everyone, of course always to his own ends. The DVD transfer’s not great, the series sometimes looks dated, and the really strange thing is that the episodes are on the discs in the wrong order (see wikipedia for the correct order), but even with all that it’s still held up really well 15 years later. As people said, it was ahead of its time and these days would likely have been an HBO series rather than CBS. Such is life.

On a slightly lighter note, Channel 4 on demand now has the hilariously surreal Mr Don & Mr George available for your viewing pleasure. Again, the order is slightly out, no idea why, but all six wonderful, bizarre and charming episodes are there to enjoy. Trailing the exploits of two men called McDiarmid, but not related, this is another series that was arguably way ahead of his time – an offshoot of the also excellent Absolutely (also available on Channel 4 right now).

The Next Doctor?

Well it’s now official that David Tennant is leaving Doctor Who. Sad news indeed as he created such a great take on the character, one that has introduced the Doctor to a new generation and even convinced a few die hards that Tom Baker’s run could at least be equalled. Unfortunately although Tennant’s Doctor is as compelling as Baker’s, his run on the show is nowhere near as epic – Baker did seven series, man and scarf.

So now it’s a big thanks to David for all the good times, and onto the usual flurry of speculation as to who will be next. I don’t envy them, they have some hard shoes to fill. David gave as a dark, somewhat tortured Doctor, so you have to think another direction would be good – lighter, but not too comedic. I’d still love to see Eddie Izzard give it a go, but suspect that won’t happen. Perhaps they could get Mitchell and/or Webb to try, that’d be an interesting twist to follow on from the Two Doctors storyline at the end of the last series. All these folk would be fun to watch, but I suspect we need someone with a few more actorly chops, and a bit of Shakespearean experience as the ‘Sci Fi Shakespeare’ angle is always a winner.

Stephen Fry’s Love Letter to America

This Sunday, for those of us in jolly old Britland, Stephen Fry is embarking on the first episode of his love letter to America – which should be a jolly good watch and probably a lot better than the watered down distress visited on us by Little Britain USA (sorry, Matt and David – it’s not your best work). In a wonderfully long blog post Stephen explains where his fascination with America came from, the near chance that he could have grown up in America had his father but taken a different career decision. Having found this out at age ten the young Stephen, or ‘Steve’ when effecting an American accent, would imagine how his life could have been had this choice been made differently. Now the adult ‘Steve’ Fry gets his chance to share his effusive joy and wonder about the country that might have been his but isn’t thankfully for all us Brits who consider him one of our brightest treasures.

Who? Doctor Who?

Well that was one of the best Doctor Who episodes in a while. Explosions. Multiple cameos. Emotional wrenching turmoil. The usual. Plus Davros is back again, splendid stuff.

Oh, and a resolution to last week’s cliffhanger where the Doctor was shot by a dalek that I promise you won’t expect. Big ups to Russell T Davis and the rest of the team.

End of the Montel Era

It looks like long term daytime talkshow host Montel Williams is calling it a day. This hits a personal note for me as at Fountain Mobile we ran Montel’s first ever series of text message campaigns, so we got to go see the filming of a show a few year’s back. Looked pretty strange having a line of folks in business suits amidst the usual throngs, but they ‘hid’ us underneath a camera boom so we probably weren’t in the broadcast that much. Never did see it though.

The Monty Python Appreciation Society

Many years ago back at school I founded ‘The Monty Python Appreciation Society’, which impressive as it sounds was in fact just an excuse for a gang of us to borrow the school video and watch episodes of Python at lunchtimes. Ah, the joys of being a geek. To be fair we had more reason than many people, as Terry Jones used to be Head Boy at our school, so there was a tenuous link which was exploited to full, lazy effect.

Now thanks to my birthday present from mum I get to relive those school highlights, since I now have the complete box set of Monty Python to enjoy. Amazingly, aside from a few sketches, it stands the test of time admirably and still makes me laugh out loud. Plus there are the quotes. Mmmm… quoteage.