Friday, October 09, 2009

Current TV shows

As with buses so it is with TV shows, you wait for ages then all the good ones turn up together. Yesterday was Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Micro Men, and School of Comedy. I'm also recording FlashForward and True Blood. No spoilers or very few at least.

Okay first up True Blood a vampire series where vampires have "come out of the coffin" and announced their presence to the world upon the creation of a 'perfect' synthetic blood. What can I say coincidence city; oh look a vampire happens to turn up at the same bar that the psychic waitress works at who happens to save him from the vampire drainers who also happen to live there while her brother ends up accused of the murder of a women who'd had sex with a different vampire. As a start-up episode it may just work if it manages to settle down, but I don't know. Then again most of the scenes with Anna Paquin (Rogue from X-men) was of her in her waitress uniform of tight white top and short shorts so there's a least one reason to watch it :-P

On the other end of the decent spectrum we have FlashForward, everyone (or was it) in the world suffer a blackout at exactly the same time and have a 'Flash-Forward' of events occurring in six months time. The series follows the FBI's investigation into the cause and result of hte blackout. Two episodes in and it's pretty tight we shift between the personal and business life of one of the FBI agents and as a time-travel type premise it happily asks but doesn't answer the standard questions posed by possible pre-destination. If it can maintain this level throughout and doesn't descend to the silliness that plagued the middling X-Files series this could be pretty good.

Time for a laugh and School of Comedy. I was in two minds about recording this after seeing the trailer. the take-over of the E4 announcing studio and subsequent mimicry was well done, but the actual screening of part of the show left me cold. Sure they picked something that would attract instant attention but it suffered from the same problem that affects a lot of pre-recorded shows - the laugh track.

Oh I've no doubt that it's a real audience whose reactions have been recorded upon screening, but producers still haven't seemed to work out the difference between pre-record and live. Live is a form of give and take - the comedian tells a joke, the audience laughs (or not) and when the noise starts to die down they tell another. With pre-recorded stuff the actors can't do that waiting, so the later jokes start while the audience is still guffawing away. This is what spoiled the trailer - the sketch started, it was funny, the audience started laughing and drowned out everything said afterwards.

That said they seemed to have lowered the volume for the episode so that you could hear what was being said, although at some times it still just chimed in at the wrong times - I'm thinking of the swearing farmer whose rude words were 'bleeped' by his wife's attempt to start the tractor next to him. Worked well except that his words were also being 'bleeped' by the laughter.

Okay that said it had its moments. The old-fashioned room shown by the estate agents was an applause-worthy idea, the non-PC teachers too; I didn't find the 'Sath Afri-kan' security guards amusing although I could see where they were coming from and although I enjoyed the court scenes I think there was one to many stuffed into the show. However all-in-all it shows promise and could mature into something good.

Never Mind the Buzzcocks, lost Mark Lamarr to be replaced by the highly credible Simon Anstell who has now also appears to have left. So like Have I Got News For You we're getting one-off hosts, and from the first episode it doesn't quite work. Maybe it's because they've also lost Bill Bailey as a team captain and brought in Noel Fielding whom I really don't enjoy, but while still funny in parts it's just lost that spark that made it all gel into something that used to have me in tears of laughter.

No review of Micro Men yet, hey give me a chance.