Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Telly Stuff Then

Bear in mind that because I am a Powerful Industry Insider, a) I get previews of entire series in advance, I certainly don't get them off the internet and stuff, and b) my opinions are quite simply Worth More. I'm sorry, but there it is.


HEROES: bit rubbish at the start, gets brilliant from episode three, final episode very slightly not as good as it might have been, but doesn't detract from the series as a whole.

DEXTER: ignore all the critics who just don't get it, man. Dexter is primarily a comedy show, which then turns round and sucker-punches you at the last moment. For anyone who hasn't caught it yet, Dexter is a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami PD, specializing in catching serial killer, who in his spare time is... a serial killer himself, devoted to tracking all all those other killers who have fallen through the net. Way funnier than it should be, and the excellent characterisation keeps you seeing things from Dexter's point of view, even when you know how inappropriate it is. I can't recommend it enough.

STUDIO SIXTY ON THE SUNSET STRIP: Done this one.

FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: Heard the original series on the radio, and didn't think it worked at all, which was a shame, as I'm a big fan of the Conchord's goofy novelty folk act. HBO have transferred the series' setting to New York, where it works brilliantly. Occasional moments of surreality (Labyrinth-era David Bowie UPDATE: NOT THAT ONE YOU IDIOT, THE EYEPATCH ONE DURRR advising one character to get an eyepatch to improve his image, then sympathising very sweetly at the resulting lack of depth perception is favourite so far) contrast well with the Conchord's flat, deadpan New Zealand reactions. What the Mighty Boosh would be like if they calmed down a bit.



In Other News: I have recently met my second American Television Producer, making it two in total. The first one was the Shouty One, this one is the Quieter One.

INT. SWANKY BAR OWNED BY DAVE STEWART - NIGHT

Meeting has begun, we have all been introduced.

British Television Producer: So, are you a multi-multi-multi-multi-multi-multi-millionaire then?

We all lean in expectantly.

The Quiet American Television Producer: Um, well, it's hard to say really.

We all lean back, satisfied.

ME: He is.
The Other Green Wing Writers: Yup/Definitely/Woo Hoo!/Mug him.

The Quiet American Television Producer discreetly looks at his watch.

Frantically we all signal for more free booze before it's too late.





29 comments:

Danothebaldyheid said...

Hooray - glad to see the props for Dexter and Flight of the Conchords, the latter of which is my favourite thing on tv at the moment and the former being the best thing in the last year! I'd also like to add a (possibly unpopular) vote for the American version of the Office. Ricky Gervais ruined the original for me - he's just too unsympathetic. However the US one is pitch perfect (in the second and third seasons anyway). It has the exact mix of comedy and pathos to be addictive, yet satisfying...

cello said...

I'm watching Dexter but finding it just a bit too gory. It's the bloodless, hacked-off limbs that do it. Mr C is in his element though. I worry about him sometimes.

james henry said...

I must admit, I have to look away quite a lot during Dexter.

The US Office is great, isn't it? Bought the first series, but seen odds and sods of the second, and it seems to improve greatly as they move further from the UK version into a strange comedy universe of its own.

hotzappa11 said...

"You could be an airhostess or a high class prositute, but you'd probably have to keep your normal job anyway."

God, i love FOTC.

Matt said...

loving Dexter very much. I even bought the books its based on which were also very good.
Looking forward to series two in september.

not heard of FotC before, but I will have to investigate...

Danothebaldyheid said...

BTW, I hate to be pedantic but my girlfriend pointed out that it's 1972 Ziggy Stardust era David Bowie who leaves him with the eyepatch idea - Labyrinth David Bowie comes later when he's done something absolutely outrageous.
Hey, if someone doesn't check the facts, the internet would become nothing but a gigantic sprawling web of nonsense, and then where would we be....(Actually, that sounds kinda fun - a gigantic sprawling web of nonsense. Dammit, ignore this comment, it's become superfluous)

james henry said...

You (and your gf) are of course quite right.

kirsten said...

Flight of the Conchords is excellent; I saw the first episode online and can't wait for the next.

I came to NZ expecting everyone to know their brilliantness but no, so far only my bf and I are fans as far as I can see.

Also anticipating Eagle Vs. Shark, movie with Jermaine Clement from the band.

Dan said...

If you can't wait for Dexter's season 2... visit something called "the bittorrents"... monstah, monstah.

I also recommend John From Cincinatti for anyone who gets these... erm, "previews". It's totally weird. In fact, it's so odd I'm not even sure I even LIKE it. A backhanded recommendation. I'm on ep5, so something is keeping me watching -- maybe just the hope it's building up to a BIG pay-off.

Anyway, it's about a dysfunctiona; family of surfers (one of whom begins to levitate!) and the arrival of a "Starman-esque" guy called John to their beach.

Matt said...

I already know about these 'previews'. I still have to wait til September for series two cos its not out in America til then :P

ah, just noticed the preview DVDs of the first few episodes of FotC have...erm...been delivered...so I will get watching.

cello said...

The Office:An American Workplace (as I think you will find it is called) is wonderful. I think I might even *whispers* prefer it to the original. Steve Carrell (?) is a proper actor, and the 'Tim' character is actually quite attractive.

I stopped whispering in line 4 by the way.

cello said...

Well, it was line 4 in the preview...

Veronica Triffid said...

Ooh, Flight of the Conchords is on BBC4 in the Autumn. I've seen it and its very very funny. Heroes is marvellous, I've yet to get into Dexter - bit much for a Sunday night?

james henry said...

Yeah, it's really more of a Tuesday sort of thing, for some reason.

Good news re: Conchords on BBC4, hurrah!

Dan said...

Don't get me started on the US Office. It's a decent enough show with a few good characters and the occassional inspired line, but.... it totally betrays the documentary-style of the format. I can't believe a documentary is being filmed and we're watching real people. It's all manufactured. Characters like Dwight are total cartoons (compare to Gareth), while the show's frequent trips OUTSIDE of the Office get increasingly strained (beach day-trips??) It's amusing in parts, but the UK version is far, far superior.

cello said...

Erm...I never quite believed the UK original was a documentary either.

wyndham said...

I'm with you on the American Office, Cello.

Dan said...

Many people did when it first came out, though. Even if you know it's not a documentary, the people generally act very naturally and plausibly (with the exception of Brent's weirder moments -- but that's his purpose in the show, to be the comedy monster causing mayhem in the "real world"). It's shot like a documentary, they rarely acknowledge the camera, rarely go outside of The Office, etc.

Compare to the US version: the character acknowledge the camera all the time (not just the "talking head" moments), most of the characters are implausible cartoons (except Pam, Phyllis, Toby and Jim) and the "documentary crew" seem to have cameras EVERYWHERE.

With the US version, the docu-style is just that -- a "style of filmmaking that seems quite fresh and innovative -- whereas the UK original had the documentary as a real REASON for the series to exist. Note the Xmas specials playing "catch up" on the characters as genuine fly-on-the-wall shows do. You never get the sense the US characters are aware they're going to be on TELEVISION -- if they did, why do they spill secrets to the camera, or do stuff that will get them fired when this stuff is shown on TV? It's not a consistent universe.

Yeah, it can be very funny. But the UK version was hilarious AND treated its premise with respect. There's no reason the US version can't do they same...

wyndham said...

Dan time to lay off the caffeine. Documentary premise or no documentary premise, both programmes are funny. That's all that counts at the end of the day.

Danothebaldyheid said...

Not only that, Dan, but you're wrong... America doesn't have documentaries in the way the UK does. Their 'reality' shows are all shot in a style similar to that used in their version of the Office. Lots more cameras. Obviously staged bits. Slick production values. People obviously asked to say things to give the shows some kind of narrative. That's just the way they do things over there.
If you've never seen their versions of Supernanny or Wife Swap, I recommend that you download some - it's an education, I can tell you....

james henry said...

I think we should all just get along. I have to say, I didn't have a problem with the slight shift in the documentary format - and people are always saying things that will make them look bad/get them sacked in real documentaries, aren't they?

What really annoys me about the UK Office, or rather the BBC's treatment of it, is how they seem to have rebranded it as The Ricky Gervais show, whereas what was great about the show was its ensemble nature - something Gervais himself has said: you tuned in for Brent, but stayed because of Tim.

Dan said...

Hmm, ok. I like the idea that the US-style of documentary is more elaborate (that would explain a few things), but I still find I can't "get in" to the US series. The people act too wacky. Especially Dwight!

The UK version had its crazy moments, but every character was identifiable. Dwight's don't exist. Show me a man who sprays extinguisher into an empty room and crawls around on his hands-and-knees (during a fire DRILL!) and I'll be proved wrong.

rob said...

I'm with Dan on this one, especially his Dwight comment.
Go Dan.
Sorry Cello.
And actually the fact that the 'Tim' character is 'quite attractive' is one of the things that annoys me about it. And Steve Carrell may be a proper actor (I like his stuff generally), but I find Gervais more believable. Oh, and slightly funnier. So what does 'proper actor' mean anyway?

They just seem to have missed some of the most important points, and gone off to make a different, quite amusing programme. It's one of the dangers of a re-make though - comparisons will be drawn. If there hadn't been a UK original, perhaps I would enjoy An American Workplace much more.

Dan said...

Sorry about hijacking the comments a little bit on this subject. "Comjacking?"

james henry said...

Not sure that term's going to take off to be honest...

And it's great, I like it when a good debate gets going on here, it makes me feel like a proper self-facilitating media node.

kaiki said...

while we're in the process of a comjacking can i steer back to the original post a bit and ask - do you really find the boosh too manic, james ?
i quite like that about it.

james henry said...

The Boosh just goes over my head a bit really - I did see the stage show a few years ago and liked the first couple of hours of it, but it's not my thing to be honest. And what a dull world it would be if everybody liked the same, etc etc.

For odd pop-culture inspired british wackiness I tend to wander over to Scary-Go-Round, which is the same sort of thing, but comes in more palatable chunks...

kaiki said...

wow. that’s wonderful.
anything with a cartoon beefheart and zappa is going to get my approval.
*nods approvingly*
i do see what you mean about the boosh – ‘enforced wackiness’ as the series goes on, i fear.
however i have an oversized crush on julian barrett so my view is fairly tainted.

Jen said...

I fancy both the Booshes.

Booshies. Booshii?

Boosh (pl.)? Like sheep?

Noel is obvious, but Julian's a guilty pleasure.