A quick post about Fargo series 2 which started last week on Channel 4. I’d watched the film, but had no great love for it – no real recollection of it other than it was strange, ghoulish and looked bloody cold. This doesn’t paint me in the best light as a film fan, but was pretty useful when the Coen brother’s work was adapted for tv. I came to series 1 with fairly fresh eyes, not worried whether super-fan Noah Hawley could possibly write something that’d live up to the film like the real fans were.
Hello Walking Dead – we’ve missed you. Congratulations to the one programme that has made me care enough to watch all five series and make me salivate for the start of series 6. I’ve had relationships end, pets die, moved house and job a few times and throughout it all there’s a lone figure staggering through my life, dishevelled, wounded, kinda smelly and really quite vicious if you let him get close – ‘Grrr arrrgh!‘ to you too my lovely zombie. It’s true love, but I know you only want me for my brains!
Exciting times for history fans! The Last Kingdom (BBC2) starts this week (22 october at 9pm). Expect fighting frightening Vikings, blood and gore, and defending the shores of the British Isles. Expect important and resonant themes of immigration and colonisation. Expect rugged men looking rugged astride horses against rugged landscapes. And expect Bernard Cornwell’s books (this show is based on his series The Saxon Story) to be stacked sky-high in Waterstones.
But don’t expect dragons. Or magic. And it seems there’s slim chance of sex or nudity. If we’ve learned anything this week it’s been that writer Bernard Cornwell is not a fan of Game of Thrones. His work in based in history, so while the costumes, weapons and landscape look epic and lavish, there’s zero fantasy elements.
Unforgotten is ITV’s new crime drama. From the off it’s very strange. For a start, it seems to be entirely well-lit. In some scenes there are zero spooky shadows and you can see everything. There’s even daylight! The investigating detectives are DCI Cassie Stuart and DS Sunny Khan. Not only do they seem well-adjusted, friendly and generally decent, but there’s zero sexual tension and no mention of alcohol or substance abuse. They might just be normal coppers doing a good job – an extremely rare sighting in drama or fiction of any kind. I especially like the way that episodes 1 and 2 haven’t shied away from how much methodical admin work goes in to a murder investigation. In fact, that’s the most mysterious thing about the show so far. Why is the Guv so keen to work a cold case full of dead ends? Nicola Walker‘s emotional stuff is a bit heavy-handed, but I’m sure it’ll all make sense when we find out about her brother/ sister/ husband/ mother who went missing when she was a child and left unresolved feelings that poor Jimmy’s case brings up.
I took a risk last week on a new comedy. It sounded like something I might not really get, a life too far removed from mine, so I wondered would the jokes make sense to me? Documentaries are different – that’s information presented as learning. Comedy needs to sit on some mutual ground, a shared understanding, a reference we’re all in on – otherwise it’s a series of in-jokes interspersed by apologies “You had to be there”.
Sir Terry Wogan is living the good life, and he knows it. He’s worked his way up the tv and radio schedules to the lofty status of national treasure and jolly decent chap. He’s the sort of presenter it’s absolutely categorically impossible to dislike, with his warm tones, his charming manner and his often repeated jokes. He’s perfect for happy little interviews with the general public and asking tradesmen and restauranteurs “What is it that you do?”. Over the years he’s perfected his jovial, warm, interested style. He’s happy for you to know he’s on easy street and in this series he doesn’t even have to worry about the driving. Mason McQueen (sadly not called June) is a London cabbie and adventurer, thanks to A Cabbie Abroad which was shown on BBC2 last year. He’s not afraid to leave the confines of the M25 and, like Terry, seems genuinely interested in meeting people and learning about their trade.
Last night there was a sea change in American late-night comedy. Young South African comic Trevor Noah took over at The Daily Show from the esteemed Jon Stewart. There’s been a lot of chatter about whether he was the right appointment (he’s not a woman, he’s black, he’s not American, he has a funny accent, he’s made some crappy jokes on Twitter) since it was announced 6 months ago, but last night was the one night that mattered.