My Television Viewing, April 14 to April 22 2015

Polished off King of the Hill season 10, another solid run. “Portrait of the Artist As A Young Clown” is a classic Bobby episode, and works both comedically and dramatically, even if similar territory was mined back in the early seasons. A re-watch of S4 of The IT Crowd proved a good use of time, with the Countdown episode in particular  delivering the goods.

Finally got around to the first two seasons of Inside Amy Schumer. What a hilarious show. Schumer’s blend of sketches, stand-up, vox-pops and in-depth interviews make for a marvellous blend, and her material and style really work for me. She’s instantly become one of my favourite comedians. I’m glad that it finally hit DVD.

ITV’s latest attempt at puppet satire, Newzoids, fell flat on its face for the most part, but the Proclaimers parody worked excellently. Still, overall it opts for the easy gags, and seems pretty toothless. Better was this week’s Have I Got News For You, whose Victoria Coren Mitchell-presided proceedings delivered the goods.. once we got beyond a genuinely awkward Ian Hislop-John prescott stand-off. Jack Dee’s Election Helpdesk clocked up episode two of three, and while the premise remains a flimsy excuse for comedic debate, it sure is watchable stuff.

The Island with Bear Grylls, a Survivor-meets-Lost reality show sans elimination, continues to prove an acceptable diversion, and episode 5 – aired 22 April – proved genuinely tense in places. Back in Time for Dinner took its final trip back in time, to the 1990s, the first era which I’d lived through, and proved compelling. Britain’s Got Talent was fine enough, once again, though none of this week’s acts stood out to me, and Britain’s Got More Talent seemed more stretched for material than ever.

The latest episode of Mom continued the series’ brave recent addiction storyline, and continues to challenge network TV boundaries in a thoughtful way. It – alongside The Middle – rates as the best current sitcom overlooked by TV aficionados. Whose Line Is It Anyway? returned this week – always a pleasure, and Gary Anthony Williams is consistently good value in the fourth chair, though I would like to see Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops show up again. Not the most spectacular episode ever overall, but the “Greatest Hits” round was a genuine instant classic.

I also found time to check in with ongoing snooker coverage, and the Edsel Catatonia video collection DVD (packaged with their Paper Scissors Stone deluxe reissue) – often fun, often crazy, occasionally rather budget-restrained. No denying the quality of the music, mind.

Full seasons:

  • King of the Hill, season 10 – 8/10 – fifteen episodes, DVD, April 16, 2015
  • The IT Crowd, series 4 – 7/10 – rewatch – six episodes, DVD, April 17, 2015
  • Inside Amy Schumer, season 1 – 9/10 – ten episodes, DVD, April 20, 2015
  • Inside Amy Schumer, season 2 – 9/10 – ten episodes, DVD, April 22, 2015

Individual episodes:

  • Newzoids, series 1 episode 1 – 5/10 – DVR, April 15, 2015
  • The Island with Bear Grylls, series 2 episodes 3-5 – 6/10 – DVR, April 15-16-22, 2015
  • Back in Time for Dinner, series 1 episode 5 – 7/10 – DVR, April 16, 2015
  • The Graham Norton Show, series 17 episode 2 – 8/10 – DVR, April x, 2015
  • Have I Got News For You, series 49 episode 2 – 7.5/10 – DVR, April x, 2015
  • Britain’s Got Talent, series 9 episode 2 – 6.5/10 – DVR, April x, 2015
  • Britain’s Got More Talent, series 9 episode 2 – 7/10 – DVR, April x, 2015
  • Mom, season 2 episode 20 – 8/10 – DL, April 19, 2015
  • Whose Line is it Anyway?, season 11 episode 1 – 8/10 – DL, April 19, 2015
  • Catatonia videos – 8/10 – DVD, April 20, 2015
  • Jack Dee’s Election Helpdesk, series 1 episode 2 – 8/10 – DVR, April 22, 2015
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My Television Viewing, April 7 to April 13 2015

Olive Films’ continued fast-paced releases of long-maligned King of the Hill seasons continued last week, and no sooner had seasons 9 and 10 arrived on my doorstep than I began to marathon straight through. The show was past its peak by this stage (roughly, seasons two through six were the strongest runs) but it never really got into a rut in the same way late Simpsons seasons did, and there’s still consistently good entertainment to be had here. Season 9’s finest is probably “Mutual of Ombwah”, which sees Hank on classic, small-c conservative form when he discovers that he forgot to mail an insurance cheque.

Series 2 and 3 of The IT Crowd continued to impress on this go-round; I should get to the final run this coming week. “The Work Outing”, from S2, remains a comedic masterclass, the finest episode of the entire show’s run.

The Graham Norton Show returned on weak form, with Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse not on their finest form, and Kim Cattrall seeming vaguely out of place. Have I Got News For You got off to a better start, with Daniel Radcliffe proving a surprisingly effective choice of guest host.

Britain’s Got Talent hewed as close to cliche form as ever, but these early auditions rounds are entertaining enough anyway. Spinoff More Talent is outshining the show proper at this stage, thanks to Stephen Mulhern’s freewheeling spirit.

Not sold on The Island with Bear Grylls, feels like a poor man’s Survivor, Boot Camp and Lost hybrid to me. Jack Dee’s Election Helpdesk, on the other hand, toothless though the format itself may be, delivered a whole bunch of genuine laughs – and the lineup of guests on episode 1 was inspired (always great to see Romesh Ranganathan and Aisling Bea). And this week’s Mom dove even darker than last week, delivering one of the season’s stronger entries.

Full seasons:

  • The IT Crowd, series 2 – 8/10 – rewatch – six episodes, DVD, April 8, 2015
  • The IT Crowd, series 3 – 8/10 – rewatch – six episodes, DVD, April 9, 2015
  • King of the Hill, season 9 – 8/10 – fifteen episodes, DVD, April 14, 2015

Individual episodes:

  • The Graham Norton Show, series 17 episode 1 – 6/10 – DVR, April 11, 2015
  • Have I Got News For You, series 49 episode 1 – 7/10 – DVR, April 11, 2015
  • Britain’s Got Talent, series 9 episode 1 – 6.5/10 – DVR, April 12, 2015
  • Britain’s Got More Talent, series 9 episode 1 – 7/10 – DVR, April 12, 2015
  • The Island with Bear Grylls, series 2 episodes 1-2 – 5.5/10 – DVR, April 12, 2015
  • Mom, season 2 episode 19 – 8.5/10 – DL, April 12, 2015
  • Jack Dee’s Election Helpdesk, series 1 episode 1 – 8/10 – DVR, April 13, 2015

Letterboxd Weekly: My Movie Viewing, April 7 to April 13 2015

I watched seven narrative feature films this week. A re-watch of Fargo warranted the week’s highest rating. Full details, and review links, below..

  • Annie (1999) – 2.5/5 – DVD, April 7, 2015, Letterboxd
  • Woman in Gold – 4/5 – cinema, Cineworld Yeovil, April 10, 2015, Letterboxd
  • John Wick – 4/5 – cinema, Cineworld Yeovil, April 10, 2015, Letterboxd
  • Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – 1.5/5 – cinema, Cineworld Yeovil, April 10, 2015, Letterboxd
  • Hot Tub Time Machine 2 – 2.5/5 – cinema, Cineworld Yeovil, April 10, 2015, Letterboxd
  • Fargo – 4.5/5 – rewatch, DVD, April 11, 2015, Letterboxd
  • And Soon the Darkness (2010) – 1/5 – DVD, April 11, 2015, Letterboxd

My Television Viewing, March 31 to April 6 2015

The most fun I had in front of a screen this week? Cougar Town – season 4 finally hit disc, and my fiancee and I marathoned all fifteen episodes within a 24-hour period. I’d forgotten how great it was at straight-up hangout comedy – perhaps even better at it than Happy Endings..

Sunshine, a BBC mini-series starring Steve Coogan as a family man-come-gambling addict, was a pleasant surprise, too. A little too syrupy for some, I’m sure, but I was sucked in completely. Tows the comedic-dramatic line wonderfully. From the team behind The Royle Family and the chronically underrated Early Doors.

Season two of The Wrong Mans improved on season one, compressing the latest story in the comedy-thriller hybrid series down to two one-hour episodes (from six 30-minute entries in S1). Corden and Baynton continue to make a great team, and the story was less meandering this go-round, making for a neat blend of genuine tension and comedic banter.

A re-watch of The IT Crowd series one proved fun. I think it was my third viewing; IIRC, I found the second and third runs even stronger. We’ll probably re-watch those soon.

ITV horror anthology Chiller proved decidedly un-chilling, though episode 2, “Toby”, at least proved intriguing. The Leaders Debate was insubstantial but interesting, and is hard to rate on any scale, really! Louis Theroux: Transgender Kids was a thoughtful, contemplative piece of documentary filmmaking, well up to Louis’ usual standards. And this week’s Mom ventured back into dark territory; it wasn’t the finest example of the show blending the light with the dark, but I continue to be impressed at the bravery and honest of that programme. It’s unafraid of complex subject matter in a way few other sitcoms, single- or multi-camera, are.

Full seasons:

  • Cougar Town, season 4 – 9/10 – 15 episodes, DVD, April 2-3, 2015
  • Sunshine, miniseries – 9/10 – three parts, DVD, April 3-4, 2015
  • The Wrong Mans, series 2 – 8/10 – two episodes, DVD, April 4, 2014
  • The IT Crowd, series 1 – 8/10 – rewatch – six episodes, DVD, April 5, 2015

Individual episodes:

  • Chiller, series 1 episodes 1-3 – 4/10 – DVD, April 4, 2015
  • Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, series 12 episode 7 – 7/10 – DVR, April 4, 2015
  • Mr. Bean – Mind the Baby Mr Bean – 7/10 – DVD, April 4, 2015
  • The ITV Leaders’ Debate – n/a – DVR, April 5, 2015
  • Louis Theroux: Transgender Kids – 9/10 – DVR, April 6, 2015
  • Mom, season 2 episode 18 – 7/10 – DL, April 7, 2015

Letterboxd Weekly: My Movie Viewing, March 31 to April 6 2015

I watched six narrative films and two stand-up comedy specials this week. While We’re Young was the best I saw this week, Noah Baumbach’s strongest feature to date. Full details, and review links, below..

  • An American Werewolf in London – 4/5 – DVD, March 31, 2015, Letterboxd
  • The Blues Brothers – 4/5 – DVD, March 31, 2015, Letterboxd
  • Chris Rock: Bring the Pain – 4/5 – DVD, April 5, 2015, Letterboxd
  • Richard Pryor: Here and Now – 4/5 – DVD, April 5, 2015, Letterboxd
  • Paddington – 4.5/5 – rewatch, Blu-ray, April 5, 2015, Letterboxd
  • The Water Diviner – 3.5/5 – cinema, Cineworld Yeovil, April 6, 2015, Letterboxd
  • While We’re Young – 4.5/5 – cinema, Cineworld Yeovil, April 6, 2015, Letterboxd
  • The DUFF – 4/5 – cinema, April 6, 2015, Letterboxd