Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Royle Family

It's hard to blog something that was pretty much perfect, isn't it? I'd forgotten how good The Royle Family was, and indeed what sort of comedy it was, and how much pathos was involved. Surely all the episodes weren't this good, though? The scene with Barbara cutting Nana's hair was devastatingly sad and beautiful, and Jessica Stevenson brought her usual greatness to the little end scene with Twiggy. And of course it was hilarious too - Caroline Ahern is a master observer.
Why, precisely, they decided to bring it back, I'm not sure - but it's quality was justification enough.

P.S. More for the 'Sam Wollaston is wrong' pile.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Two Faces of Mitchell and Webb

(I can't be bothered to blog Torchwood. It wasn't really good or bad enough to warrant an opinion, was it?! Just kind of... meh. Fun, I guess, though not funny. Not particularly dark... I'll watch again as John Barrowman's worth a second chance, but I'm not expecting miracles)

So, I went to see Mitchell and Webb live last night! Very exciting, especially because they were recording it for the DVD so I'll be able to relive it at my leisure when it comes out. Made for a rather strange opening though, as some guy came on explaining that they need audience reaction shots, but for that they need lights, and as we wouldn't want the lights up all the way through, we'd just have to do some fake laughing there and then. Which was a little weird. We did 'mildly funny', 'funny' and 'hilarious'. And all felt like idiots, so what it'll look like I've no idea.

Anyway, good point, bad points. It's easier to quantify the 'bad' elements because they're just to do with the structure of the show. Like the fact that David and Robert did lots of sketches apart, (as one got changed, presumably) when what we really want is Mitchell and Webb. Or that we didn't really see very much real David and Robert- either really real in terms of messing stuff up (they're just too darn professional - though Rob had problems with his 'Big Talk' moustache...) or inverted-commas-"real" like in the TV show.

The good stuff's harder to set down because they've found a way to my happy switch and I find it hard to be objective. Sketches that have received luke-warm critical responses (*cough* snooker commentators) make me crack up, Numberwang is the most wonderfully demented thing on tv in years, they can be wonderfully high-brow and erudite one moment, utterly ridiculous the next... I just love it. They've got to my happy switch, and that's more than enough praise. Yes, this is simply the tv show put on a stage but you know what, I love the tv show so I don't entirely care. In fact I don't care at all.

You see - can't be objective. :)

Oh, and I got their autographs....










Yay! I said to David that the Snooker Lady In Red had made me face just how much snooker I actually watch, and to Rob that they'd made me laugh so much I cried. Both just kinda laughed...!

P.S. Still having internet problems, as you can probably tell :( Ah well. Apparently the connection's about a week and a half away. We'll see....

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Torchwood

I haven't seen it yet... will blog it on Thursday after the BBC2 repeat... mum said it was rubbish.

Just to keep you in the loop.

Friday, October 20, 2006

So long, Mitchell and Webb...

.... good riddance Extras.

Paul Fuzz on Being Indie

"I'm a groupie now, right? I'm dating the cellist in Grammatics now! I gotta look the part! Get with the program! Can't swan about in back stage bars ripping off free Stella lookin' like some shmuck off the street! I gotta get with it! I'm off to buy the new Klaxons 45! Do they call 'em 45s anymore?"

Brilliant. And I can vouch for the fact that both Grammatics and Cardboard Radio are absolute masters of their respective crafts.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Surely this can't be real...

... oh lordy.

The Caretaker - Sheffield Crucible, 17/10/06

Just as blogging breeds blogging, non-blogging breeds non-blogging, but I am breaking my lazy habit to do a Sheffield Theatres special!

So, The Caretaker. Now I am aware that this is a massively important, well-regarded post-war play, but I'm willing to admit that I really didn't know anything about it, other than the name, and it seems I wasn't even too sure about that, as I often thought of it as 'The Carpenter'. But I'm using my lack of any knowledge to try and do this review completely blind. Just to see what I can come up with on my own. I've not Wikipedia'd it, no Googling, I haven't even read the pieces in the programme. This means I'll probably make some very obvious statements, while simultaneously missing very important themes... but hey. Might be fun. And rather A-levelish.

The Caretaker is a three-hander, and small casts always need impeccable acting. Luckily this production had three actors which were all immensely watchable, which sounds like rather pale praise, but it is meant as the highest possible recommendation - watchable actors are the ones which make you forget they are acting, and that is always special. The wandering tramp, Davies - here played by David Bradley - is one of the best written, most recognisable characters I've ever come across on the stage. He's done everything, and he did it all first; been everywhere, and he was the first to get there. He's got enough nous to make you think he understands you, or agrees with you, for a while, but eventually his deep-seated anxieties and prejudices can't help but come out. Davies takes full advantage of Aston who takes him in, especially when he realises Aston suffers from a mental illness, and we despise him for it, although we realise life has not exactly treated him well either. The role of Aston was played, in the stand-out performance of the production, by Con O'Neill, who's speech recalling inhumane treatment in a mental hospital brought complete silence to the capacity audience (it was 2-for-1 on tickets to fill up seats for press night). As his disjointed memories turned into a more coherent narrative of what he suffered, he became more and more agitated, and it was really difficult to watch, but the most affecting moment of the play. Aston's older brother, Mick (Nigel Harman) is another wonderful character - dark and brooding one moment, playing the fool the next, and ultimately driven by a desire to protect and help his brother, Harman had a complex role to grapple with, and did brilliantly. Maybe this praise should go to the director, Jamie Lloyd, but he had fantastic comic timing, especially in a couple of great set pieces - including a sequence where the three men tried to get a bag off one another, which actually received an impromptu round of applause.

All three characters have a hard life thrust upon them which has meant that they can never do the things that would make them happy, and that they are all stuck doing and saying the same things over and over. They try to make it new, by creating fantasies of how the flat could be, convincing themselves that that shed will get built, or just making up complete lies, but in the end they have nowhere to go. How they deal with this is what forms our opinions about them - we warm to Aston, are frustrated by Mick's intimidation of Davies, which marrs a character you know you could like, and become increasingly intolerant of Davies' lies and manipulation. This is a very slick, superbly acted production of a darkly comic play, and I'd go again in an instant.

EDIT: Guardian review. Doesn't mention anything major that went over my head, so I'm happy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hey

Just a quick one to say that I'm back at uni and currently without net access at our house :( The phone line's pretty messed up so it might be a while before normal service is resumed! Also, I see that I've 6 comments on the post below, but this computer isn't loading the page so I can see them... hope you're having fun down there! Literally, every other page will load. Grrr.

*hits computer*
That didn't help.

So, hope to see you all soon, I've got to use the uni computers anyway to check emails and the like, so hopefully I'll be able to keep some level of normality. All the best amigos.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sam Wollaston...

... wrote that Thursday's Extras was 'priceless' and that That Mitchell and Webb Look couldn't even raise 'a little inside chuckle'. This proves that the man's a fool. Extras was woeful (apart from the Ronnie Corbett scenes which he picks out as the best - we'll give him that) because it has become so damn predictable. Maggie blurts out something she shouldn't; Andy hates broad comedy; everyone hates broad comedy - in this, he even went so far as to say that people who watch it (and broad comedy, readers, is silly wigs, live audiences and catchphrases) are morons. Nice. It'd be ok if there was a dissenting view, but no - everyone from Stephen Fry to Barry-from-Eastenders knows that broad comedy is lowest common-denominator television. All of which could be excused if I actually laughed, but Chris Martin was awful, the scenes in the shop were boring, and complaining about being at the Baftas is just ridiculous. Thank goodness for Ronnie.

Then there was Mitchell and Webb. Now it's far from perfect, I know that, but at least it doesn't make me angry. In fact it makes me laugh. Quite a lot. Which is always a start. Numberwang is demented fun, the Sir Digby Chicken Caesar sketches are weirdly enjoyable, though I've no idea why, and the sketch from this show where David had a go at Robert for writing a sarcastic letter made me laugh more than I have done in a long time. (Reading that back, you probably had to be there). Plus, they throw away great ideas in a single sketch, never to be seen again, because they've got thousands more where that came from. I really look forward to it.

Talking of looking forward to stuff (I'm good, I know), Robin Hood and Strictly Come Dancing start tonight, if you haven't noticed. :)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Belated congrats to our not-so-Struggling Author

Marie was one of my first regulars, so I can't let her fantastic news pass by without me shouting her BOOK DEAL from the rooftops. (Look, I even used colour!) We all know that if her blog's anything to go by, Gods Behaving Badly will be an absolute winner, so I can't wait to go into Crockatt + Powell next summer, and come out with my very own beautiful copy.

The Outsiders

Oh bless ITV, they tried, didn't they? They were clearly going for a fun, stylish drama - a bit retro, a bit modern. Yes, we could see what they were going for, with all the 70's graphics and good old British Minis, but bloody hell it was lame, wasn't it? Nothing even happened. And what was all that lobster stuff about? That's 90 minutes I ain't getting back.