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Set The Video: Timewatch - Gladiator Graveyard, BBC Two, Friday 11 May, 9pm
If the word "gladiator" makes you think immediately of Russell Crowe (aka Maximus Decimus Meridius) then it would be worth watching this instalment of the world's longest-running history documentary series (25 years old this year) just to add another, rather more original, name to your collection: Euxenius.
One set of human remains, discovered in a gladiator grave in Ephesus intermingled with the bones of 67 other gladiators, has been found to be at least 20 years older than those with whom he shared his grisly resting place. They are believed to be those of the revered gladiator-turned-trainer to whom a tombstone had been dedicated by two young gladiators. This makes Euxenius' remains the world's first to be named.
Doctor Who - Where? When?
It was only last week that I was bemoaning the fact that the current series of Doctor Who has been bounced around the schedules worse than a nuclear physicist in a zero-g environment. Well guess what? On the night of the Eurovision song contest, it's been postponed altogether.
TV Scoop undergoes essential maintenance
I used to hate that message whenever I went onto a website, but I know now that it's all true. So if you were wondering why posts were thin on the ground today (and a bit of tomorrow if truth be told) then you know why – the site is moving servers, having an MOT and all that kind of stuff. Hope it doesn't mess with your daily entertainment too much!
In the meantime, I'm off to cook a little omelette. Only a little one, mind. See you on the other side!
TV Review: Horizon, The Six Billion Dollar Experiment, BBC Two, Tuesday 1 May, 9pm
Big science. That's what Horizon used to do best. And that's what it almost managed to get back to tonight. That is to say, the program was definitely about big science, but for today's audience - who the producers clearly think have brains not much larger than a gnat's and attention spans to match - the story has to be wrapped up in CGI, preceded by almost thirty minutes of irrelevant waffle about the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (worth a program on its own, incidentally, but with only a passing connection to the eponymous experiment) and take care to avoid explicit mention of the Higgs Boson.
Coming Soon: The Good Samaritan
Alfie Moon, as Shane Richie has been the first to admit, wasn't much of a stretch for him. The cheeky cockney likely lad was based pretty much on, umm, himself and the line between the two of them was paper-thin.
His only notable TV outing since, What We Did on Our Holiday, was well received though and proved there was more to him than Alfie (although the same can't be said about Kat, sadly). But now, as we mentioned briefly in passing a few weeks ago, Shane's back in another new one-off comedy drama. And for once, he's not looking after an aged parent.
TV Review: Project Runway, Sky One, Monday 30 April, 9pm
First things first - I'm no fashionista. I don't claim to be, I don't want to be, I'm just not. I write for TV Scoop and not Shiny sister site Catwalk Queen for a reason. I don't really care what's new on the catwalks in Milan or what Kate Moss has been wearing. Not to say I dress like a bag lady, but you get the slightly scruffy, lived-in-jeans picture.
I do however, love a good helping of bitchy reality TV, and so nursing such hopes tuned in to season two of Project Runway. I had previously sampled the camp delights of the UK equivalent Project Catwalk, and was looking forward to more of the same. I was not disappointed. If anything, I predict our trans-Atlantic cousins will teach us Brits how to have the ultimate diva strop. Let the hysterics begin!
Joost online TV unvieled
It's all happening in internet TV land. Yesterday, I bought you news of the BBC's iPlayer, and now Joost, a web TV company launched by the founders of Skype, has announed that its commercial service is to be rolled out to the general public.
The Media Guardian report that the service, which has been running an extended trial since last December, will feature 150, ad-supported channels that include offerings from CBS, Viacom and Turner Broadcasting. Users can search programme guides or genre by keyword, and specific chatrooms around each channel will be available. There are also instant messaging and playlist features. Sounds exciting! Go here to have a look.
The Mortons: Why?
Over on the lovely Corrieblog they've been getting in a kerfuffle recently about whether the new Morton family is a good thing or not. Or, as they say over there, a Yay or a Nay.
New families usually take a while to bed in on the hallowed cobbles, mainly as the actors familiarise themselves with their new roles and how best to play them. Remember how over-the-top the Battersbys were when they first arrived? They appeared to be the same character in four separate bodies - all loud, brash, thieving scumbag lowlives who couldn't give a tinker's cuss for anyone. Gradually though, Toyah's sensitivity and academic leanings were revealed, Les morphed into a buffoon, Leanne became a lovable tearaway teenager and Janice remained as a loud, brash, thieving scumbag lowlife. But the Mortons? They're another kettle of haddock altogether.
The Daleks – how they used to be in Doctor Who
Is the Doctor Who backlash in full effect? It seems a lot of us were less than impressed by the recent, two-part Dalek story. Is it because we now have impossibly high standards when it comes to the Doctor, or were those episodes genuinely naffola? I'll leave you to argue that amongst yourselves...
So, the next in my occasional series of classic clips of classic Doctor Who villains comes from the very first Dalek story, during the William Hartnell era. As you'll see, the Daleks haven't changed that much over the years in terms of the way they look, but one thing is evident – what's inside them is comepletely different.
Classic US series shrunk for mobile phone TV
They were all rubbish of course, but shows like Charlie's Angels, TJ Hooker (the ultimate forgotten classic in my opinion) and Starsky and Hutch all played vital roles in my formative years. That was mainly due to Heather Locklear in a policewoman's uniform and Cheryl Ladd. Cheryl Ladd in any sort of clothing, to be honest. Obviously I've got over these things now, but these shows were the basis of me and my mates' games in the back garden. I tried to perfect the TJ Hooker car bonnet roll, but got told by my dad for making a dent in his Ford Escort.
thewordisnotenough is quoting The New York Times this morning, who reported that these shows, owned by the Sony Corporation, are being shrunk down into three-to-five minute mobisodes. There is an obvious argument that three-to-five minutes is pretty much the amount of worthwhile entertainment in these shows anyway. You can read the full story here.
TV Review: Annually Retentive, BBC Three, Monday 30 April, 10.30pm
What I like about Annually Retentive, is that it is a show of many layers, all of which are utterly indistinct from one another.
There's the real Rob Brydon, the actor in this show; there's the off-stage Rob Brydon in the show, and there's the Rob Brydon that appears on the quiz. Then the guests - there's the fictional persona we see in the programme, the preconceptions we have about them and, buried in there somewhere, the real person themselves. The show lives and dies off how these layers mingle and flow, and subvert our expectations - and the place where this works best is on the panel show. There things get really complicated.
Changes ahead for 24 in future series
Judging by Katie's reviews of 24, this series, day six, has been a bit on the rubbish side. Now TVgasm is reporting that even Fox, 24's home network, has acknowledged this fact and is intent on doing something about it.
With ratings falling and plots torn apart by viewers, execs are desperately trying to figure out what to do next. In fact words and phrases like "big changes" and "reinvention" are being used. "I don't dispute it's been a challenging season to write for us," says a producer type person, "but it's reinvigorated our determination to reinvent the show. This year could be seen to be the last iteration of it in its current state. It won't be a musical or a half-hour. I've got a couple ideas, none of which I could even begin to share responsibly." Read the full article here.
HBO set for Africa comedy
HBO, that bastion of quality of TV is set to make a comedy series, written by South Park scribe Jane Bussman, about a former teacher who leaves her family behind in the US to work on an NGO in Africa. I didn't know what an NGO is, so I looked it up – wikipedia says it's a non-geovermental organisation, and the International Red Cross is one of the biggest out there.
Quoted in Variety, Bussman says: ""She has come to hug kids and be a good person, but it's not easy to be a good person when you're surrounded by both extremely hot colleagues and war crimes." Well, quite. Most comedies on HBO are biting satires of urban living – like Entourage or Sex And The City – but this looks as though Carrie Bradshaw and her kitten heels will be left well behind.
TV Review: Million Dollar Pigeon, BBC2, Monday 30th April, 9pm
Now pigeons are things I’d never thought I’d be writing about on this blog. Let's face it, Pigeons aren’t exactly the kind of pretty birds we like to wax lyrical about, admire their sweet song or gasp at their exotic plumage. Ken Livingstone wanted to spray them with machine gun fire, and I've people call them some pretty nasty things (flying rats, anyone?). The only thing I can remember liking pigeons for is Pigeon Street in the 1980s when I was a kid, but I can’t say I’ve ever thought about them too much since. I mean, I don’t like them pooing on my car, or me for that matter, but they have never played too much a part in my life.
So what on Earth was I doing watching a documentary about pigeons and pigeon racing last night on BBC2? That’ll be a deadly combination of boredom and curiosity, then.
BBC gets TV on-demand go ahead
Watch out! As if you didn't already know, TV is changing. Soon there won't be any schedules, what and when we want to watch will be dictated by us and televisons will be made of chocolate (so we can eat them when we don't like what they're showing us). The first two points were true, the other is daydreaming. Thanks to Sky+ we've gotten nearer to controlling our own TV-watching habits, and now the BBC has got the go ahead to launch its much-vaunted iPlayer.
The service will launch later in the year and will allow viewers to watch BBC programmes online for seven days after they've first broadcast. Which means catching up on EastEnders, or Hustle, or, dare I say it, Doctor Who. What's even better is that (some) episodes can be stored on our hard drives for 30 days after.
TV Review: 24, Sky One, Sunday 29 April, 9pm
Another 'hour' of 24, another disappointing episode. I'm sorry for my constant bitching and wailing on this matter, really I am. I don't want to feel this way, rehashing the same old grievances all the time. But endless repetition seems a horribly fitting tribute to this season's '24'.
Seriously, what happened to '24'? Answers on a postcard please. I need some obscure conspiracy theories to help manage the pain. Was Kiefer too hung-over from his wild partying to question the daft plots? The writers too busy thinking about the planned film or the execs too busy counting their cash from DVD box sets to notice the sharp nose dive in quality? I'm a fan on a mission - and I demand answers!
Set The Video: Hustle, BBC One, Thursday 3 May, 9pm
Beautiful people doing not-so-beautiful things in the name of making a buck. Quite literally a buck for the opening episode of the new series of Hustle this coming Thursday, as the gang are off to LA to try and find a mug who wants to buy the Hollywood sign off them.
Doctor Who head honcho says no to Kylie
Last week I posted up a story from the News Of The World, suggesting that Kylie Minogue (it's weird typing her surname... she's just referred to as Kylie these days) had all but inked a deal to play a Cyberwoman in this year's Christmas edition of Doctor Who. Now it seems that Russell T Davies, the man behind the Time Lord's renaissance, has put that rumour to bed once and for all.
the-word-is-not-enough.com has posted a story originating from fansite gallifreyone.com, quoting Russell thusly: "Don't be stupid," he told the BBC's in-house magazine, Ariel, sounding a bit liek Captain Mainwaring. "I haven't even written the script yet, and a woman like that is booked up two years in advance." That told them! But wait, if he wants to continue the Neighbours theme, there's surely still time to get Bouncer in to take on K-9! Or, failing that, just get some more Cybermen in.
Sesame Street to play in Israel and Palestine
Can TV save the world? Sesame Street thinks so. While I wouldn't want to be flippant about the continuing troubles in the Middle East, there seems to be some TV execs out there who think a kids show could help to promote some positive vibes to the younger generation. Sesame Street is making a comeback to the region after the originals were taken off air because of lack of funds.
Yahoo! reports that the show is back, to be shown both in Israel and in Palestinian territories. The Israeli version (Rechov Samsum) will have puppets of Arab characters for the first time, while the Palestinian version (Shara's Simsim) is designed to present positive role models to children in Gaza and the West Bank. Muppet-themed educational kits will also be distributed throughout the area.
Coming Soon: Why Birds Sing
As summer approaches, which normally means that Big Brother is almost upon us and set to dominate, you have to search that little bit harder to find those little golden nuggets. I think I might just have found one in Why Birds Sing. Based on David Rothenberg's book of the same name, it sees the author try to get to the bottom of why little fluttery things sing like they do. He's convinced that, unlike some ornithologists and botanists, birds might just sing because they quite like singing. It's his job to gather evidence to support his argument.
So Why Birds Sing doesn't have any celebrities or feature people shouting at each other or any audience phone votes. Strangely though, it's made by Endemol, the same people behind BB. It does, however, have the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Beth Orton taking part in some musical experiments, feature some bloke doing a duet with his cello and a bunch of nightingales (what is the collective noun for nightingales I wonder?) and more human/bird musical collaborations. Now this is proper telly. Look out for it on BBC Four in June.
Second series of Torchwood begins filming
I couldn't get into Torchwood. I tried, I really tried. I mean, I love Doctor Who – it's one of the few shows on telly where life has to stop and, wherever I am, I have to get to a screen to watch it. So I had high hopes for the spin-off. In amongst the news that the second series has just started filming, I looked back on the first series of Torchwood with disappointment. I just couldn't get into it. I didn't care much for the characters, the stories were a bit weak and John Barrowman, currently doing his talent show judging thing in Any Dream Will Do (see Keris's review earlier today), started to annoy me.
But Digital Spy reveals that JB let slip on Loose Women last week that the Torchwood crew is back and has just started filming the new series, which will air on BBC 2 and not BBC Three early next year. In my eyes, I hope it's better than the first.
Amanda Redman gets Honest for ITV1
Amanda Redman, currently doing a fine job in the half-decent BBC1 crime drama New Tricks, is to star in a new comedy drama on ITV1 next year. I can't say I ever liked or disliked Amanda, but then I saw Sexy Beast, where I thought she was excellent.
Anyway, the new series will be called Honest. Amanda will play matriarch Lindsay Carter who, after her hubby gets out of jail for robbing people, decides that it's time for the family to go straight. The four children are anything but easy to raise – one is a law student and the apple of mum's eye, the other is determined to follow in his father's footsteps, one daughter is on a job seeker's allowance, and the other daughter is blackmailing her headmistress. Sounds a bit like a watered-down, primetime version of Shameless. Look out for it next year.
Set The Video: Annually Retentive, BBC Three, Tonight, 10.30pm
Well I've got to say this one sneaked up on me, hence the late notice for this new series of Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive which starts tonight on BBC Three at 10.30pm. I can only apologise, and assure you I'll be giving myself a severe talking to later.
When the previous (first) series was on, we at TVscoop had a little nosey around other people's blogs to see what they thought (I was "other people" at the time), and the results were... well, mixed. It seems that many people thought that Rob Brydon is simply too funny, too charming and just too darn nice to convince as the backstage nightmare he's made out to be. But I think he's actually playing the lesser of many evils - it's the people around him who are the real idiots, and he's just reacting with classic Fawlty-esque irritation.
TV Review: Lost, Sky One, Sunday 29 April, 10pm
Sunday, 10pm, Sky One - that only means one thing to me, time for another journey into the weird and wonderful world of Lost. Last night the wheel of fortune was spun and landed on the too often neglected character Sun. Now for the uninitiated 'Lost' is a show dominated by the posturing antics of alpha males, with the women killed (Shannon, Libby, Ana-Lucia) or reduced to feminine hysterics (Claire). Kate seems to be the only female the writers want to bother with, a worry considering she is essentially a tomboy. But in Sun, we have a different type of animal. An educated woman (Juliet being the only other skirt we could imagine gracing a library), married, from a non-Western culture and now unexpectedly pregnant.
Sneaking a peak into Sun's past, we learnt that she was blackmailed to save the feelings of her husband Jin. A mysterious woman demanded $100, 000 from Sun, threatening to inform Jin that his mother was a prostitute if she failed to cough up. Nearly three seasons have sought to confirm Jin's staunch pride, and Sun was all in a palava as to what to do. Find the money and pay the woman off or risk hurting her husband? If only she'd had a lucky eight ball on hand to help her out.