Wednesday, 3 March 2010

And as if by magic ...

Toby Whithouse has answered my query about Tully. Fancy that. He obviously reads this blog.

So Toby, now all I want to know is WHY DIDN'T MITCHELL KNOW HIS LOVER'S NAME?

Thank you.

Even More Being Human

To recover from the excitement of yesterday's live blogging experience, I felt the need to immerse myself in more Being Human pondering. My post here on Monday was less of a review, and more of a teenage "Me 4 Mitchell" fest. Which is weird, since he's a 116 year old vampire who murders people really quite violently. And also, he's not real. But what the hell? I don't even live near Bristol, so it was never going to happen anyway. And to be honest, I could probably go for Ivan instead at a push. Except he's dead, as well as fictional.

Anyway, I'd already read this interesting post on Monday, so I went back to the Cosmic Calamari's blog last night and looked for more Being Human writings. I wasn't disappointed. Mr (or Ms) Calamari has lots to say about Being Human, and this post in particular caught my eye.

For me, Being Human is more than the sum of its parts, and I can forgive it many things because I find it thought provoking as well as hugely absorbing, and because it can take me to the verge of tears minutes after making me roar with laughter. The fact that it has faults makes it, ironically, seem human and I love it even with its flaws.

But it does have flaws, and some of them are irritating. Annie's position within the spirit world, as discussed by Mr(s) Calamari is certainly one of them. Sykes and Gilbert have been great additions to the show, in my view - Gilbert was one of my favourite characters of Series 1 - but as Calamari's post notes, surely the whole point of Annie's situation it that it isn't the same as being alive. Gilbert and Sykes both helped move the narrative of her character forward by providing exposition. (Is exposition solely a literary device or can it be applied to film? Whatever. They provided information, to Annie and us, about her situation and causes of it.) I wanted more of Sykes, but instead we got the single mother trying to bag a dead fireman. Annie was apparently a celebrity within the ghostly community and the problem with that is that we'd never heard of it before - or since. The babysitting was obviously to make Annie think about what she'd lost - her future life - but the trouble with it was that it introduced ideas that were convenient for this episode, and were then apparently forgotten about, or at least unexplored. It's perfectly reasonable to expect, and indeed need, 'realism' in a show about a vampire, a werewolf and a ghost in that just because they are supernatural and don't have to be restricted by normal, human rules, that doesn't mean they can be completely free of any rules. Their characters have to be real within the rules of their species.

The biggest difficulty I had in the series climax was in Episode 7 when Mitchell systematically failed to realise who Lucy was for a very long time. Throughout that episode whenever anyone mentioned the name 'Jaggat' in front of Mitchell, I was thinking "Why isn't he reacting? Why isn't he exploding into a huge ball of vampiric rage? Has he gone deaf? Was he thinking about getting some new fingerless gloves and not listening?" instead of watching the screen intently. It was a distraction. Mitchell met Lucy at work. There was lots of interaction before they went for a drink, and this happened at the hospital. Where she was a doctor. A doctor! They wear name badges, for God's sake. Is it really possible that Mitchell would not have known her name? There didn't seem to be any suggestion that she was working under a different name - was there? I missed it if there was. People definitely mentioned Professor Jaggat in front of him. Ok, they didn't refer her 'Lucy' and 'Jaggat' in the same breath, but come on. He isn't that thick. Jaggat is hardly Jones. Surely you would at least think "That's a co-incidence!" and then wonder if there was a connection. And then go and find out. Of course, if Mitchell has twigged it would have ruined the great dramatic reveal by the vicar when he finally realised who had been behind the explosion at the funeral parlour, but the fact that I kept scratching my head and wondering why he hadn't worked it out yet didn't help with the dramatic tension for me.

Having said that, I can't help feeling I'm nitpicking. I've enjoyed the series hugely and I can't wait for more. And I'm glad Tully got to help George in the end, and kind of redeem himself a bit for giving him 'the curse' in the first place. Tully was a pretty objectionable character of course, but still one I eventually pitied when it became clear that he'd lost his family, and was horribly lonely. The curse of the werewolf had wrecked his life, and he had just reacted differently to George. I was sad that he'd died in the chamber, and pleased at his redemptive act.

How he knew that the werewolves had all died when the whole point is that they'd been sold the story that the chamber would save them is a question I just won't ask myself.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Ballykissangel. Live. Sort of.

Not long to go now until the long-awaited (since this morning) blogging event of the, er, day (possibly) which is the LIVE blog of a random episode of an 11-year-old episode of Ballykissangel.

I should probably have thought this through.

Still, no backing out now. There are people waiting for this.

Ok, there aren't. But it's a quiet work day. And it's a good writing exercise. And I've said I'll do it now. Rats.

14.03: Gossip is about to take over in Ballykissangel, according to the ITV announcer.

14.07: Oops. Missed a bit when I went to put the kettle on. A bloke (Irish accent) argued with a woman. She drove off. Credits.

14.08: The pub is for sale! A priest (not Stephen Tompkinson) did not know this.

14.10: Oh no. That bloke's daughter is moving to Dublin.

14.12: Ok, the first two were father and daughter. And so were the second two. Oh, did I mention them? After the first father and daughter argued and she drove off (to live with someone's uncle), a second father and daughter argued. She's the one moving to Dublin. Clear? I'm pretty sure she won't go, to be honest. Just call me psychic.

14:17: Missed a bit more, making the tea. Break now, for some truly crappy adverts.

14.19: And we're back. Sponsored by Ovaltine. That says a lot. Girl has found old dress in a chest. The nephew is pissed off with her for rooting around in other people's belongings, the nosey bitch.

14.22: Where the hell is Stephen Tompkinson? Is he not in it any more?

14.25: He bloody isn't. I just looked on Wiki. He left after series 3, the miserable git. But - that's Colin Farrell! I didn't have a clue Colin Farrell was in Ballykissangel. I bet I'm the only person in the world not to know this.

14.30: Commercial break. So, Colin Farrell is the nephew and his name is Danny. The girl who argued with her father at the start was the one who found the dress. They've had an argument and she's buggered off again. Someone offered her a lift somewhere. I missed where. Sorry. Some people have given their opinions that Niamh shouldn't go to live in Dublin. SHE'S NOT GOING TO GO, PEOPLE. Don't the residents of Ballykissangel ever watch Sunday night telly?

14.36: Two people have arrived to look around the pub, separately. The woman was nice. You could tell because she smiled. The man was a bastard. You could tell because he had a beard.

14.39: Did no-one notice that 'Niamh Egan' sounds like 'I'm a vegan' when she introduces herself?

14.40: The girl (Emma) got a lift to someone else's house. She has a blue fireplace. The owner of the house, that is. Apparently, Emma was in Hollyoaks after this. Thanks again Wiki.

14.42: The parish priest is rubbish at accounts. And he's having a crisis of confidence and faith and wondering if he's relevant in the real world (hint: you're not in the real world, this is a TV show). This has to be Stephen Tompkinson's replacement. He's got all the miserable bastard lines.

14.43: Another commercial break? Good God.

14.49: Next morning. Blonde fireplace woman is going out. Ooh, I know who she is now. She was in something else. About a Boy! She was in that. She was the one Hugh Grant lied to. The Irish one, funnily enough. Hollyoaks girl has painted Fireplace Woman's fireplace. Even though Fireplace Woman TOLD her she wanted to do it herself. It's an episode of Jeremy Kyle waiting to happen. A bloke just said "Orla's going to love it", which means "She's going to tear your face off, you interfering cow."

14.53: Where's Ambrose?

14.55: Oh, the bloke who said "Orla's going to love it" was the priest. He was right. He IS shit.

14.56: Yeah, she didn't love it.

14.58: Is Ambrose dead? Nice woman is back, who looked around the pub. She realised she couldn't afford it. Everyone is a bit crap at accounts in this programme.

14.59: Oh, nice woman has 'history' with Whatshisname. Quigley. He's Niamh's father, right? Well if he is, him.

15.00: Some woman saved moaning new priest's bacon on the accounts front by committing fraud. Senior priest aided and abetted. Hm.

15.02: Hollyoaks girl is going to thank Fireplace Woman (surely she means apologise?) by giving her some rusty old shit she found in a field.

15.05: Horrible beardy man isn't buying the pub. He's found a fish farm that's a much better option.

15.06: Fireplace Woman loves the rusty old bits of crap.

15.07: Hollyoaks girl has apologised to her father for being a brat. But whose was the dress in Colin Farrell's uncle's house? Are we going to find out?

15.08: Quigley's rented the pub to nice woman.


Being Miserable, As it Happens

One thing I've never really understood is how people write or comment on 'as it happens' blogs for their favourite shows. For example, Being Human on Sunday night. How do people do this and not miss anything? I cannot be typing "OMG, WHY DOESN'T GEORGE DO SOMETHING?!" or reading "It's Mitchell! Look, there's no-one there! Please tear the technician's throat out, Mitchell, I don't like his hair" while I'm actually watching because you see the thing is, I'm watching. This is obvious, right?

So, I have decided that surely the only way to go about this blogging as it happens exercise is to choose something I don't really want to watch that much or, even better, at all. Then if I miss bits, well ... who cares? Not me. Probably not you either.

With this in mind, and as a homage to the charismatic star of Sunday night TV that isn't Aidan Turner, I shall this afternoon be blogging about Episode 4, Season 5 of Ballykissangel as it happens on ITV3 between 14.05 and 15.10.

This is cutting edge. Don't miss it.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Being Human

So, last night was the season 2 finale - or as we used to call it in non-America, the last in the present series - of BBC3's sci-fi comedy drama, Being Human. I'm not sure if 'sci-fi comedy drama' is its official categorisation, but that's what it is to me. At 8.55 pm, I assembled my traditional accompaniments to scheduled TV viewing - a nice cup of tea and some snacks (tiffin, homemade, if you really want to know) and settled down in front of the fire for some Sunday night viewing pleasure. A few moments in and the appearance of Amy McBride (deceased, a lot) had put me off my victuals, but had also kicked off another hour of quite wonderful television.

I love this series. Let us get that straight from the start. Like most other people, I watch telly most days. Some of what I watch, I even like. Lots of it, however, I switch off halfway through, from sheer boredom. The glut of reality shows showcasing idiots and fools clambering over and trampling the perma-tanned, scantily-clad bodies of their contemporaries to snatch their 15 minutes of fame has become staple TV fodder these days, to the shame of us all, participants and views alike. And then there's the plodding, over-sentimental 'drama' - Wild at Heart, anyone? Good God, what is wrong with Stephen Tompkinson? Must he play a whining git in everything he does? Does the man have a whining clause in his contract that states he must moan, grumble, complain and look downtrodden at least three times a minute? He's a vet, he's a priest, he's a children's entertainer – but whatever he is, you can bet he's a miserable bastard. This series must surely end with the other vet in Wild at Heart (Lexy from Monarch in the Glen – it was difficult to find a more annoying part than that, but you did it) putting him out of his misery. They wouldn’t let an animal suffer like that, oh no. Amazingly, Amanda Holden left that show and it still hasn't improved. This is a feat which, had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would have thought impossible.

I digress. In short, the number of shows about which I get truly excited these days is few. It is increasingly rare to find the kind of show for which you wait all week in anticipation; that you just can't wait to watch. The kind of show that you actually think about all day before it’s on; a show with plots you theorise about with your friends; a show that you watch and really, genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen next. And then afterwards, a show which makes you feel desolate that it’s over; you cannot possibly wait a whole week for the next instalment. You will simply fade away and die if you have to wait that long for the next episode, and you know that if you were Stephen Tompkinson,* the Eeyore of Light Entertainment, you’d never even manage to bed Dervla Kirwan, so morose you would be.

But Being Human is one such show. It is so much more than a sci-fi show about a ghost, a vampire and a werewolf. Don't get me wrong, that sounds good to geeks like me. But it does nothing to convey the brilliant depth of Being Human. The characters are neither good, nor evil. All of them are both. All of them are just trying to live, and do what they feel to be right. Who are the monsters? The vampires, the werewolves – or the people? Maybe none of them. Maybe all of them. Brilliantly written, even the most objectionable characters can inspire pity in the viewer; even the best loved can inspire disgust. The humour – though little of it was in evidence last night – is so sharp and rings so true, and the characters so rounded, so fully drawn that their plights seem all too plausible and it is simply impossible not to have empathy with them. Even though a lot of the time, you can't quite decide whose side you should be on - or even whose side you ARE on.

There is to be another series, thank God. Or perhaps the Devil. Or just Toby Whithouse. How I will fill my time between now and then, I cannot yet bear to think. The months stretch in front of me, Mitchell-free, like a yawning abyss of despair. All I know for sure is that in my Being Human-less misery, there is a level of hopelessness to which even I will not sink. Repeats of Ballykissangel, I exorcise thee.

*And if it were 1996.