Friday, 3 April 2009

What I've Learned from Watching TV this Week - 3rd April 2009

I spend a lot of time watching television each week and over time have come to appreciate the fact that this magnificent medium of entertainment can also be a fantastic learning tool. To prove as much, here are a few things I learned from watching TV this week in my new quasi-regular feature:

- You do not mess with Sayid Jarrah. ‘Lost’s resident torture specialist has long been a fearsome customer you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of, but in Sunday night’s episode he proved that he has ice running through his killer veins.

Sure Benjamin Linus grows up to become a lying, manipulative, murderous, genocidal, beady eyed sociopath but as a child he was a geeky Harry Potter look-alike. That didn’t stop Sayid from poppin’ a cap in him though, at point blank range no less.

Sayid may have done the world a favour, but even Sawyer who’s no stranger to spilling a little blood, referred to young Ben as a “cute kid”, a sentiment Sayid obviously didn’t share. The moral dilemma Sayid may have gone over in his head is akin to the old “if you had a time machine would you go back and kill Hitler as a baby?” quandary, but the lesson to take from this is, regardless of what Ben would become, if Sayid could do that to a helpless, bespectacled child, then just imagine what he’d do to you and me…

- Chris De Burgh must have bought shares in AIG. The giant eye-browed crooner has appeared on both ‘Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway’ and ‘Chris Moyles’ Pub Quiz’ in recent weeks – playgrounds for the desperate liggers of the world, not 80’s housewives favourites.

He’s not exactly been one to crave the spotlight over the years, so old Chris’ recent penchant for inane TV appearances has to have grown from somewhere and in these times of global recession all I can assume is that De Burgh invested his ‘Lady In Red’ royalties (does he even have any other songs?) somewhat unwisely. Why else would you degrade yourself by appearing on either of these career graveyards?

- You wouldn’t want to be blonde on ‘Heroes’. As ‘Heroes’ creaks towards the end of it’s lacklustre third season, we were treated to somewhat of a cast purge this week as two prominent characters, both with luscious blonde locks snuffed it.

First up literal ice queen Tracy Strauss sacrificed herself to save her doppelganger’s son Micah from Danko’s evil clutches. It was revealed that Micah was in fact the mysterious ‘Rebel’, but given ‘Rebel’s ability to talk to machines that wasn’t too much of a shocker.

Tracy’s death did make for an impressive visual, but I don’t really understand why they brought Ali Larter back after seemingly killing her off at the end of the last season. Whether she’ll return again as yet another of these genetically created clones remains to be seen – maybe she could regenerate from a puddle a la the T-1000 in ‘T2’ – personally though I think Larter’s time on ‘Heroes’ is up and it’s time to move on.

The second blonde to end up six feet under was speedy irritant Daphne, who, as regular readers of this blog will know, I have an irrational hatred for.

After already teasing me with her death once this season I’m not entirely convinced that the ‘Heroes’ hierarchy have actually killed her off, although her somewhat happy ending did seem pretty final to me. Fingers crossed then that one of the most ill-conceived characters to ever hit the show is finally gone from our screens.

- Simply holding your breath can protect you from all manner of lethal gases. (If you’re Jack Bauer) On this week’s ‘24’, Jack managed to expose himself to a biological weapon of mass destruction and get close enough to it stop a leak without joining Bill up in CTU Heaven simply by holding his breath.

Jack’s breath-holding ability certainly is something to behold, this recent example comes on the back of his miraculous dash through the nerve gas filled halls of CTU in Season 5 from which he emerged unscathed, while one little breath was enough to put cuddly CTU analyst Edgar Stiles out for the count.

Something else I learned from ‘24’ this week:

Jon Voight is the best thing about ‘24’ right now. As Jonas Hodges, Jon Voight is turning in the hammiest, campest performance of villainy ‘24’ has ever seen… and I love it! He may as well walk on set and take a big bite out of the wall.

His line to snivelling sidekick Greg Seaton about the Starkwood board being “six year olds” who needed to “eat their carrots” was not only line of the night but line of the season.

Long may Voight’s reign of campery continue, because he is single-handedly saving this show right now.

‘The Wire’ is most definitely a slow burn. I’d only seen little snippets of this grandioso show in the past, which is criminal given my insistence on perpetuating the myth that I’m sort of TV expert, but I’m already finding myself drawn into the Baltimore criminal underground like Amy Winehouse to a crack pipe.

By focusing on both sides of the law, ‘The Wire’ is able to humanise the so-called ‘bad guys’ and at times make them more sympathetic than the ‘good guys’ - it really is a master class in compelling, addictive TV.

In terms of pace and build this show is the complete antithesis of the likes of ‘24’ and ‘Prison Break’ – but that’s a good thing. I can’t wait to finally watch the show right from the start and see how everything plays out, nowadays nothing ever really lives up to the hype but ‘The Wire’ has achieved this feat and then some. Believe the hype, this could be the greatest show ever made.

Shockingly, togas aren’t always funny. The boys’ team on ‘The Apprentice’ managed to achieve the impossible this week and make togas seem like a bad idea. John Belushi was probably turning in his grave (although that may have more to do with the amount of drugs that are probably still circulating round his corpse.)

After their Olympic themed event was anything but togarific, the boys’ team were called back to the boardroom after inexplicably making a loss on the food-centred task, and all this under the guidance of a Sandwich shop entrepreneur! He’ll be lucky if his job at Subway is waiting for him when he gets back.

Yes, Northern Monkey Rocky was out for the count, on the ropes, not making a ten count and any other awful Boxing puns you can think of, as Sir Alan gave him the finger (not literally of course, although that would be one way to actually make the eye-bleedingly awful Adrian Chiles spin-off show watchable.)

I’m enjoying ‘The Apprentice’ immensely so far, but already can’t stand Howard and his stupid duck-like face and Kate, who you’ll remember said she wasn’t a dumb blonde, then proceeded to pronounce canap├ęs ‘canopies’- the prosecution rests.

Making blind people wear merkins on their head is mean. The ‘American Idol’ live performance show that aired in the States Tuesday featured, in addition to a horrendous rendition of ‘Play That Funky Music’ by screechy AC Slater look-alike Adam Lambert, what I can only assume was a cruel April Fool’s joke in the form of whoever styled blind piano lover Scott MacIntyre sending the poor guy out on stage with a pubic wig on his head.

Paula Abdul comparing Lambert to Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler was the most mind-boggling thing I’ve ever heard. I’d hate to be the stage hand that has to wipe down Paula’s chair after watching a Lambert performance; she couldn’t possibly gush anymore if she tried.

Also on ‘Idol’ this week, Kara DioGuardi managed to continue making herself look like a class A moron by referring to Studio 54 as Studio 57 and Kris Allen emerged as the show’s dark horse with an amazing performance of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’.

The British Media are just as, if not more, emotionally manipulating than their American counterparts. Charlie Brooker’s excellent TV work has continued with ‘Newswipe’, which has highlighted what we already knew about the British news media – that they are scaremongering, emotional blackmailing, manipulative cunts and anyone who drinks their Kool-Aid is in dire need of a CAT Scan.

This show is doing a fantastic job of cutting through the bullshit and giving it’s viewers the real scoop on what is going on in this once great country of ours. Brooker for PM.

Mick Fitzgerald is a media whore. The former Grand National and Gold Cup winning jockey, forced into retirement after last year’s Grand National after a life-threatening fall, is a correspondent for both the BBC and Channel 4, as well as Sky’s racing channel At the Races. Racing coverage can’t get enough of old Fitzy, he’s either got one of the sport’s sharpest minds or has Max Clifford for a publicist.

Speaking of Racing: This Saturday will see one of the greatest TV and sporting spectacles of the year hit our screens – The Grand National. Now as you may or may not know I like a flutter every now and again so I thought I’d give you a tip for this Saturday’s clusterfuck beyond “keep your money in your pocket".

I’ve long fancied Black Apalachi for the big race, after winning the Becher by a mile last year I was convinced this horse could win the National (if he stays on his feet that is.) In terms of an each-way prospect, Himalayan Trail has a big chance to run a place off a low weight, I’ll definitely be having a couple of quid on him, especially after I had a dream/premonition the other night that he won the race!


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