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Doctors and Nurses (2004)
I was fairly looking forward to this show. Mainly because it boasts a very talented cast. All the stars have featured in popular sit-coms or dramas before. Yet this program is no where near the likes of "Bottom" or "The Thin Blue Line". In fact its very poor. The jokes are obvious and contrived, while to make matters worse there is canned laughter. On the plus side the acting is good with everyone trying their best to work with a poor script. On the whole this is another dissapointing medical sit-com. Which is a shame because there hasn't been a good British one since "Only when I laugh". There is no chance of this getting a second series. I hope.
TV Burp (2001)
On ITV there is almost no comedy output. That is except a few 30 min latenight comedies. One of which is this gem. Each week Harry Hill casts a eye over what has been on TV. By using his unique brand of humor he does it in a very funny manner. Highlights include comparing everyday objects to the appearance of a TV star and fights to decide topical issues. This has caused me laugh out loud a number of times. Though this is not for everybody's taste if you like comedies, which tend not to be mainstream then this is worth a gander.
Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (2004)
1980's TV at its funniest
This is a comedy spoofing the best and worst of TV from the 1980's. Garth Marenghi is a horror writer who created a show during the 1980's so deep and meaningful that the networks banished it to storage. Now in 2004 the vaults have been opened unleashing it for the world to enjoy. By taking inspiration from classic shows including "Twin Peaks" and "The A Team" a fantastic show has been created. It centers on a Hospital where the docs carry guns and fight supernatural beings. The scripts are deliberately cheesy, the editing is poor and the acting is very wooden. But that is what makes it so funny. There are even those alwful end tags popular with American shows were the main characters laugh at some rubbish joke. If you lived during the 1980's you must see this!
Rosemary & Thyme (2003)
Murder they gardened
Due to the mass appeal of detective dramas and gardening shows ITV decided to combine the two. As a result in "Rosemary and Thyme" there is two sleuthing gardeners. Each episode sees the leads somehow become involved in a murder. Typically the person who is paying them to do a spot of gardening dies. It has the foundations of a good show. Maybe not very original but you could imagine yourself enjoying a show that suggested what plants should go into your rocky while at the same time offering a mystery to solve. However all 6 episodes disappointed. Basically the mysteries were not there. The murders were far too easy to solve. In the rare occurrence when you are only 85% sure whodunnit the murderer rather handily attacks a main character. Due to high ratings a new 6 part series and a 2-hour special have already been commissioned. I just hope that will see some major improvements in the quality of the scripting and stories. If you're the kind of person who loves such shows as "Murder, she wrote" or "Midsommer murders" then this is the programme for you. However both are superior.
"Heartbeat" is a brilliant nostalgic feel-good drama set in the 1960's. It mixes gentle story lines, beautiful scenery and hit music from the period to create a madly watchable program. Sure it is not ground breaking and certainly would not win any awards for creativity but it provides the perfect form of entertainment for a Sunday night. The light and easy to digest stories are just what anyone would want the night before an early morning start for work. What makes "Heartbeat" so good is the likeable characters and combination of humour and action. It doesn't take itself too seriously and never fails to have at least one scene were you couldn't fail to laugh or raise a smile. Even though it is on 24 times a year it hasn't deteriorated into just another soap like "The Bill" or "Where the heart is" with episodes made up of mainly stand-alone parts. It is deservedly the #1 drama on UK TV with 10 million viewers and even had a spin-off made in 2003 called "The Royle".
The Booze Cruise (2003)
Good comedy drama
This was a one-off 2-hour drama on ITV. It is about a group of miss-matched neighbours going on a booze cruise to France. The script was very good with witty dialogue and strong characters. All the acting by the main and even the supporting cast was of the highest order with the veteran Brian Murphy brilliant as the moaning pensioner. It had plenty of laugh out moments and a clever 4-pronged plot. Though there were a couple of predictable moments on the whole it provided a decent level of entertainment. An enjoyable drama, which I recommend you watch.
My Family (2000)
Canned laughter, predictable jokes and weak stories have made this sit-com a ratings success. Amazingly about 8 million watch this every week. I have tried to get into this show but I find it too weak to even raise a smile on my face. Every episode is full of corny jokes and embarrassingly poor humour. The only thing that saves this show from being completely unwatchable is the stupid son Nick. But then again how many sit-coms have a zany character that does stupid things? Yes most of them. Which further shows just how ordinary this program is. Sadly they churn out 13 episodes a year rather than the usual 6 which means this is a hard show to ignore. Don't watch this program. For good modern British comedy see "The Office", "Hardware", "Early doors" ect. Rumour has it 2004 will see the show bow out. Great news, but rumour also says it will have a 28 episode run. Talk about a double-edged sword.
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Does not warrant a sequel
WARNING SPOILERS! With the sequel just weeks away I thought I'd better make an effort and try and see the first. Thankfully one of the movie channels were showing it so I eagerly sat down to watch it. Within minutes I was gripped by the mysterious and quite scary atmosphere created when we first encounter the rusty old pick-up. I even jumped when rats left the pipe by the church. By the time they reached the cafe I was engrossed in the film. However from then on the film went down hill. The bat-thing killed the police by flying onto their car and pulling them out through the windows and even the roof. At this point I asked myself how come it doesn't do that to the teenagers? The bat-thing could have also killed them at the old woman's house and the police station. That really ruined the film. It just didn't fit in with the other actions of the monster. Not only that but the police station scene was poorly done. Little tension was built up and the ending was poor. Furthermore too many questions were left unanswered e.g. how did the women learn about the bat-thing, where did see come from? Or how long has this been going on and why did the bodies have stitches through their chests, after all the monster only wanted tongues and eyes? A good first 30 minutes and a disappointing last hour. I will avoid watching this again and certainly not watch the sequel.
Over the hill
Like so many people I eagerly waited for the 1st episode on the new TV channel 4. Quickly I became a fan of the great story-lines and strong characters. "Brookside" boasted a number of fantastic soap characters (Barry Grant was my favourite). It even had a "Hollyoakes" like ability to attract some good-looking female actresses. But what I really liked was the realistic stories and the way "Brookside" was so different to the much more camper offerings like "Eldorado" offered by other channels. It pushed boundaries and broke new ground. However by the late 90's the soap was a pale shadow of its former self. Gone were the interesting, likable characters and compelling stories and in were boring irritating families with completely stupid plots. I no longer watch "Brookside" and will not miss it when it ends this year.
2nd best comedy of 2003
2003 has been a pretty poor year for new British comedies. Many such as "TLC" and "Swiss Toni" have been nothing more than predictable, dull and terribly unfunny. Thankfully "Hardware" came a long. During its 6 episode run it quickly showed it was unpredictable, entertaining and very funny. What made the show so excellent was the character driven plots and witty jokes. It didn't rely on just clever put-downs like so many other programs do, but decent story-lines which were in the same class as "Only fools and horses" and "One foot in the grave". Nye has produced a very fine sit-com, so good I would rank it up a long side the classic "Men behaving badly". Lets just hope ITV produce another series of what is their best comedy for years and the second best of the year (Behind "Early doors").
Diagnosis Murder (1993)
Thankfully as a student I have been able to watch "Diagnosis Murder" for a number of years now. It is basically about a doctor who solves murders with the help of his LAPD son, a young doctor and a pathologist. DM provided 8 seasons of exceptional entertainment. What made it different from the many other cop shows and worth watching many times over was its cast and quality of writing. The main cast gave good performances and Dick Van Dyke's entertainer roots shone through with the use of magic, dance and humor. The best aspects of DM was the fast pace, witty scripts and of course the toe tapping score. Sadly it has been unfairly compared to "Murder, She Wrote". DM is far superior boasting more difficult mysteries to solve and more variety. Now it is gone TV is a worse place. Gone are the days of feelgood, family friendly cop shows. Now there is just depressing 'gritty' ones.