Sunday, August 01, 2010

A good week for telly

Doctor Who holds such an unusually dominant position in the telly-lover's mind that when a series comes to an end, it always feels like, urrgggh, there's just nothing good on TV any more. And for a few weeks, to be fair, that was probably pretty much the case.

Last week, however, was a noticeably good one. Twitter went slightly mental for Sherlock, of course. It would have been a big telly event in any case, but in that particular sphere the excitement was almost certainly heightened by the fact that co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss themselves had recently joined the Twitterati. It took me until yesterday to catch up with the opener, in fact but, perhaps predictably given the talent both behind and in front of the camera, it was well worth the wait. The updating, importantly, worked brilliantly thanks to some nifty direction (the on-screen text a particularly nice touch), and the dialogue zipped along at a fantastic pace. Not that Stevie comes out of this with an entirely blemish-free copy book; for a sociopathic genius, Sherlock wasn't half-thick in one notable instance. Luckily, when you have Benedict Cumberbatch on such sparkling, exciting form, Martin Freeman showing Watson coming alive so very well, and Stevie and Gatiss having such fun (check Gatiss's BBC TV blog to see just how much), you are prepared to excuse much.

I also caught up on Alex Horne's The Games That Time Forgot yesterday, a documentary about as BBC Four as it is possible for a show to be. Not only was We Need Answers's Powerpoint maestro Horne at the helm, his question-master co-host and good friend Tim Key also popped up. The hour long programme was about sports that have failed to stay the course - notably Quintain (jousting without a horse), which he attempts to rebrand and cricket on horseback, a game which was once mentioned in a 19th century newspaper and has caught Horne's imagination. Some of it was, let's face it, an excuse for Horne to mess around a bit, but that's not to say it wasn't fun to watch, and the culmination of the programme - a full (if reduced-overs) game of Cricket on horseback - was genuinely quite moving. Surely any game that involves the phrase "horse before wicket" deserves to be played on a much more regular basis than once every 150 years...

Last in my iPlayer marathon - and, like The Games That Time Forgot, part of BBC Four's The Call Of The Wild strand - was new sitcom The Great Outdoors. The fact that it's written by Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil (who have written for the likes of Big Train, Black Books, Armstrong and Miller) meant it was always going to be worth a look, but it's also got a strong cast, led by Ruth Jones, Katherine Parkinson and the ever-wonderful Mark Heap. Filmed entirely in the rather beautiful-looking English countryside, it follows a group of ramblers, and while it started off rather slowly, the last ten minutes had me laughing out loud a couple of times, and the people involved mean it's going to be worth sticking with.


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