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!

The amazingly talented Ms Sarah Hamstera was generous enough to invite me to guest blog. I’ll be honest, it’ taken me a couple of weeks to get excited about enough telly at the moment to put it together but here goes….
My first thought was the change on January 16th to BBC Three becoming Vertical Line Vertical Line Exclamation Mark – i.e., having only an on-line presence. As with the closure of high street shops (I shop on-line) I feel I was part of the problem that led to its Freeview demise. BBC3 gave us so much new comedy – Gavin & Stacey, Mongrels, Bad Education, Summer Heights High, Cuckoo (which I’ll talk about in a minute) to name a few, but I’ll be the first to admit I only really watched any of these on-line. And despite not being in the demographic for this channel I know I’m typical of a BBC3 viewer, hence the change.

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Cuckoo’s unlikely duo (photo: radiotimes.co.uk)

That said it’s not been too painful so far. The third series of the wonderful Greg Davies-led Cuckoo (seen first on BBC3 on iPlayer -Episode 4 now available & subsequently on BBC1 Mondays 10:45pm- Episode 3 aired 7th March) .

“I lived in China,” says Dale, “I know the language. And the day they put the bins out.” <Pause>. “It’s Thursday.”
Wonderfully irreverent and at times farcical and made all the more hilarious because it’s Taylor Bloody LAUTNER! Yes, the werewolf from the Twiglet series of films with those hugely uncharismatic characters in it (except Michael Sheen. Don’t understand why he agreed to it but I’ll let him off because …well… he’s Michael Sheen).

Lautner is wonderful. It’s easy to forget he’s still only just 24 years old. His wide-eyed innocence as Dale is, in my opinion, far more engaging than Andy Samberg’s original character. (As an aside there was a great line in episode 3; Rachel’s on-line dating photo is described by her brother as “three years old – you look like you have a different head”. The actress playing Rachel left after Series 1. Bet she’s kicking herself now.)

It’s family-based but utterly beautifully silly at the same time. Ken joins a Parent & Toddler Group – it all goes horribly wrong! In fact whatever Ken does, goes horribly wrong! And there’s always Dale there with poor Rachel (whom he persists in calling ‘Mom’) helplessly in love with him. The all too infrequent and appearances of Tyger Drew-Honey add to the mix with his brilliantly sarcastic teen attitude.

British comedy at its best. The hero. The awkward situation. The hilarious consequences (and I mean that in the best possible way.)
Highly recommended .

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Thirteen – new drama on BBC3 (Photo: radiotimes.co.uk)

From comedy to the heart wrenching. Thirteen (BBC 3) was a difficult watch.
“The day she was taken, she should have been at school under our care.”
13 year old Ivy went missing 13 years ago. Since then her family appears to have moved on. Younger sister with plans for the future. Philandering Dad more interested in his mistress. Then Ivy returns having escaped her cellar and her imprisoner – who is nowhere to be found and has a multitude of identities. Sister is, despite DNA evidence, reluctant to accept that this really is her big sis. The Mulder/Scully style team of investigators are on the case.

It’s compelling stuff, and there seem to be a lot of suspects in the mix, not least Ivy herself who maybe is – or maybe isn’t – telling the whole truth. “You were meant to be at school. But you weren’t.” I had a call once, from my daughter’s school, she hadn’t been marked present and I was told she ‘definitely wasn’t there’. She was. It was a teacher error. But for half an hour my life was on hold. That’s why this is so compelling. It digs into our inner horrors and fears. We still are following the Maddie McCann story and it’s why Brie Larson won the Academy Award for Room. And it’s why I will despite the sadness, keep watching.

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The families from Dunblane (Photo: bbc.co.uk)

Then we have on BBC2 Dunblane :Our Story (9pm Wednesday 9th March). Never-before told stories of a terrible day. The proud head teacher. The parents who chose the school because it was so lovely. The dad who’d already lost his wife to breast cancer. That day in March – an icy but bright and beautiful morning full of snowdrops. Ordinary families all doing ordinary stuff and then… fatal shots. The teacher who did what you do when a child is hurt, even with the smallest injury. Protect them. The bravery of the families.

I remember that day clearly. My own daughter was not even two years old and we were in the car with Hubby, as we’d been to Toys’r’Us and this came on the radio. This is raw stuff that resonates with any parent. “When they told me she was dead… the knowing was better than the not knowing.” The Head Teacher who had to identify the dead… the teacher who knew them best – gone. Terrible stuff. All I can think is: thank God we don’t have American style gun laws and this was the UK’s worst ever atrocity and will never happen again.

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The X-Files – re-opened in 2016 (Photo independent.co.uk)

And finally to The X Files (C5, Mondays, 9pm)
I am loving the ‘mini series’ (aka in the UK – a ‘series’) . This week saw accusations of Islamophobia – I’m still unsure about that, but I am left with the vision of Mulder line-dancing under the influence of magic mushrooms from this week’s episode. It’s been like revisiting Star Wars in The Force Awakens that it’s going back in time. Retro. Hand on heart loving the feeling – just how it used to be back in the day. Can’t wait to see how it will end.

Thank you for listening.

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