‘Line of Duty’ (Series 3) – On the Box

You have to be careful watching Gogglebox (Channel 4) when you’ve got a lot of  stuff to watch on your planner. I’m taking it in my stride as it’s my fault for watching things out of order, but it spoiled a major plot twist in the new series of Line of Duty (BBC2).

Gogglebox has become a strange and wonderful cultural touchstone. As you probably already know it’s a simple concept – families and friends sit in their front rooms and are filmed watching the best bits of tv from the week. These teams of amateur telly reviewers are now award winning celebrities in their own right. It’s a strange ,seemingly useless programme on paper but a genuine delight to watch. From initial scepticism (what’s the point of this?!) it’s slowly become must-see tv in our house. And anyway, we’ve been entertained by The Royle Family for years, and what’s that other than people sitting around watching tv?

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‘The Night Manager’ – On the Box

A few words about The Night Manager, the excellent John Le Carre adaptation that has been wowing drama fans on BBC1- the last episode is this weekend. Like the majority of critics I’ve been hooked on exciting times in exotic locations with handsome actors.

The all-star cast features so many versatile, award-winning actors who have serious comedy chops. It feels like these funny charming characters are having to tone it down a bit, or indeed turn up the angry flashing stares and gritty malevolence – Hugh Laurie and Tom Hollander are amazingly sinister. Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar ( who I recognised from the film Four Lions) are shaking up the British Intelligence Services from the inside and old boys club seems to have had something of a makeover.

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‘Houdini & Doyle’ – On the Box

Well this looks daft. I rolled my eyes at the advert, but then I wondered, is it too silly, or just silly enough?

As long as a show is well-written, the acting isn’t too hammy and there’s some spectacular effects we’ll sit through a lot of stuff that sounds like absolute guff written down. For examples please see fantasy/ fairy tale horror Grimm (now inexplicably in its fifth season), fantasy/ fairy tale mash-up Once Upon a Time (totally ridiculous premise, carried off with some significant flair), ’90s cultural touchstone Buffy (Teenage Mutant Vampire Hunter) etc etc.

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‘Shetland’ – On the Box

Back in 2013 the Beeb had a go at capturing the Scandi noir spirit with a drama set slightly closer to home than the usual Sweden/ Denmark heartland. When I say slightly, I mean only very slightly because this dark drama is set in Shetland. They might speak the language and you can fly to Glasgow in 90 minutes, but the place has much more in common with Scandinavia than Scotland. Famously the islands didn’t become part of Scotland until the 15th century and that remoteness lingers in the traditions and the outlook of the people.

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‘Too Much TV’ – On the Box

Well thanks BBC2 for this new tea-time waste of time. Too Much TV is the perfect name for a desperate and disparate bunch of ‘presenters’ – some with little or no presenting experience – chatting awkwardly about television shows that are all at least 469% better than the one they’re hosting.

They’re a motley crew of left-over raffle prizes in the school hall that should never have been grouped together (“The chocolate and wine are gone! I want to get my moneys worth but I don’t want lavender soap or a fucking Spanish wicker donkey!”). They’re like the very end of a list of potential presenters shouted out at random at a BBC meeting: “Can we get Dermot O’Leary? Fiona Bruce? Oh God, Terry Wogan has died! How about Carol Vorderman?… None of them? Oh shit, I guess this lot will have to do”.

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I Have Been Watching…

Shush! Turn the telly off – we’ve got guests!

Don’t worry – it’s guest blogger Susie Sue! She’s here to talk telly, and for her first Dead Pixel Test post it’s the demise/ rebirth of BBC3, comedy, tragedy and line-dancing. Read on!

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