It’s been a while, and I probably should have renamed this edition as ‘This Month in Catching up in TV Land I’, but that name would be a ridiculous mouthful. This blog will cover all the big TV moments that I watched from the end of December to right today – but I’m not really going to be commenting of series that are still ongoing, partly because it’s unfair on the show, but also I’ve only really seen a couple. I’ll quickly cover what I though of McMafia and The Miniaturist – McMafia is a story of hedge-fund executives breaking the law and getting involved with an underground crime gang. It’s okay, but episode 2 was a drag and I’m struggling to want to watch more. The Miniaturist was fun, dark and a tad sinister, but I missed the episode when it was on and do I have time to watch iPlayer? I mean, I do, but I really couldn’t be bothered. They were both good shows, both shot very well and both written to a good standard – but whereas McMafia felt like a chore, The Miniaturist was enjoyable and I feel bad for not watching it.
Rightio, now onto the things that I actually actively went out to watch over the Christmas break and was either intrigued by or had to watch due to the fact I wouldn’t be able to show my face in public if I didn’t – for I have a reputation of nerdiness to keep up.
First on the menu was the Christmas episode of Doctor Who. It was a must watch for a multitude of reasons; it’s tradition to watch a normally disappointing episode on Christmas day and then moan about it afterwards, the story was a regeneration episodes and I owed it to Peter Capaldi to see him go with a tear in my eye, and the incoming Doctor was going to be played by Jodie Whitaker – a dreadful choice and she isn’t ginger. Oh, and while I’m the topic, she’s a lady. I have no strong thoughts on this one way or the other. Good, that’s that done with.
The story was one of the increasingly common crossovers, this time with the first Doctor, played by David Bradley, because the original actor, William Hartnell, died in 1975, and the second, Richard Hurndall, passed in 1984. It’s without a doubt the most terminal roll that an actor can take in doctor who. After refusing to regenerate and contemplating just giving up and letting himself die, he bumps into his first regeneration who is also mid-swap and is too holding off his regeneration – he’s scared. We get nice interplay between the two, the different generations and tropes of the incarnations are played off well, even if they do focus a bit heavily on how the ’60s series’ were a hint sexist and make the first doctor come across all a bit Daily Mail. Mark Gatiss turns up as a WWI captain who has been grabbed out of time, just as he was due to die in the trenches, and dumped in the Arctic and now they have to find out why he’s there, and what “evil” force has made it happen. The ending is lovely, and is a very welcome ending to cherished characters’ arc, as well as a fond fair well to Murray Gold, who is leaving his role as the shows’ composer. Oh, and Moffat is gone – and there was much rejoicing. Overall, the show was a nice ending to Capaldi’s reign, and the ending of his time was well worked and performed. He leaves behind him some of the greatest acting performances of any artist who has appeared on the show, and his one-man show of Heaven Sent is going to be forever one of the best Doctor Who stories written, despite it’s terrible Moffat-riddled ending. Worth the watch.
300 Years of French and Saunders was next on my list. They have been an influence on me and my writing since I first watched their silliness nearly 2 decades ago, and I always find myself going back to them all these years later. So why then, did I find their Christmas outing so bland? Simple – only a small fraction of what we saw was the new material that we had been promised, and a good chunk was the sketches that made them famous. I should have been better prepared, as it was billed as slightly more than just a reunion, but a look back on their past and a documentary on where there comedy funny bones came from. Even so, I was expecting a lot more from something that also had on the bill “new material” – but what was there was very witty and sharp, and watching their old skits is always a pleasure. But, I don’t know, it just felt empty somehow. It was there goodbye working as a sketch double act, but it was a good deal of blowing one’s own trumpet with little to show for all the praise and hype, and those words hurt to type.
Next on the bill for me to watch is the latest outing from a group that I have grown very much fond of over the last few years. They started with The Play That Goes Wrong, then moved to television a few years back with Peter Pan Goes Wrong, and are now back on the Aunty Beeb with A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong, where they take the beloved and well known Dickens story, add an unnecessary celebrity cameo in the form of Derek Jakobi, and then make it all go wrong in some impressively tightly scripted fluffs. And unlike the other shows, which were screen adaptations of their previous touring shows, this is written for TV – and as such they can take more liberties, such as having a large portion of the show taking place out of the studio as they run around London, and backstage as they desperately try to keep Jakobi from taking the lead role. It has some very funny moments, and setting it as an attempt to make a serious adaptation of the novel is neat, but it’s sadly lacking in laughs. Usually, these guys build the comedy from their huge effort despite a total lack of talent, and from the slapstick joys that a set built by idiots can garner, but most of the jokes this time around come from people being hit in the face by opening doors, getting their costume stuck on things and other mild larks. It’s a shame, because I really wanted to like it as much as I liked everything else they’ve done. Maybe they’re just better on stage.
And Finally, in Robot Wars news, Diotior returned and was quickly set on fire. It was glorious. 5 Stars.