Written by TV

Some Recent TV

A Bank Holiday weekend ahead of the start of the Autumn TV season, saw a few new series start or return, and a couple of one-offs.
Framed was by Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of such films as Millions. What I suspected, but which I didn’t gain from the credits, was that this was based on a novel. Not only that, but it was an older children’s novel.
So my first question is why this programme went out at 8.30pm meaning that it didn’t end until 10pm when surely in many households, younger children will have had to go to bed? It didn’t really address “adult themes” and could quite easily have played at 4.00pm in the afternoon. The real reason is that soap operas dictate early evening schedules, and there isn’t room before 8.30pm for a 90 minute drama, since Monday is Eastenders’ night. In which case, Sunday evening might have been more suitable.
Incidentally, every time a soap introduces an additional episode of
The tale itself was desperately silly with a plumbing disaster at the National Gallery requiring all the masterpieces be transported to the same Welsh mountain mine that they’d been stored in during WWII. That’s fine. I don’t mind silly.
But what I did feel a little uneasy about was the casting. I’ve no problem with either Trevor “Shoestring” Eve or Eve “Torchwood” Myles who are both excellent actors. But when the former is 58 and the latter 31, I find it harder to believe in a budding romance between the two. Older men with younger women are common on TV – you just don’t tend to see the reverse.
As I say, the story was silly, but fun. And it was a perfectly good family drama. But slightly miscast, and badly scheduled.
Over on BBC2, Tim Samuels (nope – no idea), was investigating the business of porn. In particular he was looking at the profits that are being made, and in particular the cash being made by otherwise respectable companies. This was quite legitimate with most mobile companies, the majority of hotel chains and the credit card companies making significant profits from porn despite projecting strong values in company statements.
The documentary ended with a disturbing section shot in Ghana, where we’re told, the effects of unfettered porn was leading to some serious social problems.
But the programme had problems too. Samuels kept showing up on-set at porn shoots like so many porn documentaries before him. While sometimes the interviews with the actors were a little disturbing (lack of condoms and doing things they frankly don’t want to do), there was a certain leeriness in his presence. And for some reason, the producers adopted a pathetic device for reading out statements from the various blue-chip companies who profit from “adult entertainment”, by employer porn stars to read out the statements in their underwear. This felt like having your cake and eating it.
Over on Channel 4, the end of Big Brother is nigh – both for this series, and forever (at least on this channel). Yet a couple of new series did start this weekend. Scrapheap Challenge, the long-running series about making things returned. Except that it has clearly had its budget cut significantly (something that Paul O’Grady is not willing to accept). So instead of Robert Llewellyn or Lisa Rogers, we have Dick Strawbridge who first came to light on this show. And there’s no scrapyard or 12 hour builds now. Instead teams build at home, and then come together for the competition at the end. This has the effect of lessening the emphasis on the build itself, and spending more time on the competition at the end. Three teams compete for the chance to take on a presenters’ team.
Some of this is fine. I think the actual competing at the end was often the most entertaining part of Scrapheap. But the savings are obvious on-screen with limited coverage now of the build, and even the graphics explaining the science behind the technology being notably lower quality than in previous years.
Channel 4 also debuted a series called Atlantic Covoys which examined, in detail, what happened across the Atlantic during WWII as convoys were created and U-Boats attacked. It did a good job covering ground that, while not altogether new (there was an episode of World at War devoted to this very subject, for example), still merited this programme. There’s also been a previous BBC series that covered the whole Battle of the Atlantic, but this series is concentrating – so far at least – on the merchant seamen.
Next week’s episode looks at the effect of Bletchley Park cracking the cyphers that the U-Boats used (a favourite subject of mine, I must admit).
I just wish C4 wouldn’t hide away quality like this at 6.45pm on a Sunday evening. They’re scared stupid to put serious documentaries like this at 8pm or 9pm.