I’ve been watching Godless on Netflix recently and I have to say that I’m very impressed. Nice long episodes, each well over an hour, give plenty of room for character development, story telling and beautiful imagery. It’s well cast, well acted, well written and, despite its languid pace, always entertaining. Recommended.
Like, I presume, most other Star Trek fans I’ve been watching the new series, Star Trek: Discovery, on Netflix for the last few weeks and I’m not entirely sure I like it. No, scratch that, I like it well enough but I’m not sure I love it. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why that is and have yet to reach any firm conclusions. Perhaps it’s just early days and by the end of the first season I’ll feel differently. Perhaps it’s the continuous narrative rather than the previous series’ format of discrete episodes, sometimes overlaying a longer story. Perhaps it’s just that what I’d really like to see is something set further into the future than the other series were, rather than sandwiched between Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: The Next Generation as this one is. I want to find out what happens next, not what happened before.
Whatever the reason, I’m not entirely happy. Oh, I shall keep watching and hoping it gets better and maybe it will. Does anyone else have any strong feelings about Discovery?
Last night I watched the first, um, episode, of Episodes, a new sit-com on Channel 4, starring Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig as a pair of comedy writers and Matt LeBlanc as, apparently, the star of the US version of a hit UK TV comedy supposedly written by them. I say ‘apparently’ because he only put in an appearance at the very start of the show, being involved in a car accident with Greig’s character, the rest of the programme being a flashback.
I have to say that I expected more from this cast. The gags, especially a piece of shtick with the security guard at a gated community in Beverly Hills, fell pretty flat and I didn’t smile once, let alone laugh. However, it’s really hard to do much with some stories until you’ve set the scene and established the characters, so I shall reserve full judgement until I’ve seen a bit more. I hated Only Fools and Horses at first, and look how good that got in its heyday. Maybe I’ll write a bit more once we’re well into the series.
I watched the first episode of Gareth Malone‘s latest exploits on BBC2 last night. In Gareth Goes to Glyndebourne, the ever-charming and delightfully enthusiastic Gareth follows the now-familiar pattern of taking a bunch of ordinary working-class kids and introducing them to a whole new world of music and singing, in this case by getting them to perform in a specially written opera at the world-renowned Glyndebourne opera house.
Yes, we’ve seen similar stuff before, and in the hands of almost anyone else it’d be quite boring by now, but somehow Gareth Malone manages to keep our interest. A great deal of this has to be due to his infectious passion for singing and his refusal to give up in the face of the kids’ initial indifference. It really is lovely to watch, despite a certain predictability. I’ll be glued to the remaining two episodes and to whatever Mr. Malone comes up with next.
HMV are currently selling the box set of Ricky Gervais’ wonderful comedy, Extras, on DVD for £10 at the moment, so I had to pick up a copy over the weekend. I have to say, it was an absolute joy to see it again, and watching the episodes more-or-less back to back really added something. The whole story came together very nicely and, on second viewing, it was much easier to appreciate some of the finer moments. If you haven’t already got a copy, do it now. You won’t be disappointed.
I watched last night’s first episode of Can’t Read Can’t Write today and found it not only interesting but also very moving. The difficulties faced by adults who have trouble reading were highlighted very clearly, as were the shortcomings of the current official approach to helping these people.
Of particular note was the struggle faced by Linda, an intelligent and cultured woman in her forties who has never managed to read a single word and has a desperate desire to read Shakespeare. Initially she just doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere but eventually the breakthrough comes and it’s truly magnificent. There were tears in my eyes at that point, as at many others throughout the programme.
It goes without saying that I shall be glued to next week’s episode.
Yesterday I went to a recording of Have I Got News For You. I’d been to radio recordings before but this was my first TV show, and I have to say it was great fun. The half-hour show took about two and a half hours to record, and I got the distinct impression that this was unusually long, although it was all funny stuff so I’m not complaining. I shall be watching it so that I can see which bits they keep, and also so that I have the pleasure of seeing the back of my head in the audience shots. Exciting, huh?
I’d definitely go again, but as an experience I think that radio recordings are somewhat better. You don’t have to queue for hours in a howling gale, you get to hang around in a theatre bar instead, and the atmosphere is rather more relaxed.
Yesterday I had a bit of a wander round Walthamstow market where, rather wonderfully, a steel band was playing the theme from the Crystal Maze. I picked up a copy of Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds in Waterstone’s, which I’ve already started and am enjoying, and had a fry-up in one of the many cafes.
In the evening I watched a wonderfully scary episode of Dr. Who. The concept of creatures who look exactly like statues and are unable to move while they’re being observed but who can move incredibly quickly when you blink or look away was a good one, although I thought that they could have been dealt with rather easily by the suitable positioning of a mirror or two (can anyone say ‘Medusa’?). Still, they looked frightening, what with the fangs and clawing fingers, and I’m sure there are some appropriately traumatised children out there.
The plan for today is to watch MotoGP and Formula 1 while eating snacks and drinking beer. Well, it is Sunday, after all.