Wednesday, 10 September 2008

My Media

A while back I was going to call it 'my fave TV'and confine myself to brief reviews and previews of TV I'd watched or was looking forward to. Things that would be too short for an entry of their own. But I don't want to limit myself to TV as I do (very occasionally) get out to the cinema and listen to the odd radio programme or read a book. I've even subscribed to my first podcast on iTunes recently - Media Talk from The Guardian, which I loved.

So it's going to be "My Media" - boring and unoriginal but flexible and future-proof I think.

LOST IN AUSTEN

First up was "Lost in Austen" on ITV last Wednesday. Unusually, this got the prize "Radio Times" cover to usher in the Autumn season - though it's not quite a period drama. It's "Pride and Prejudice" (whose characters populate it) meets "Bridget Jones Diary" meets " Life on Mars". The latter two comparisons come from the fact that the protaganist Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper) is an unsatisfied singelton and that she falls through to another time period largely of her own imagining, namely the world of P&P. There's also the merest hint of some sort of battle in Amanda's head between her reality and her fantasy which she may or may not resolve. Like Austen, much is played as a comedy of manners, but bringing in contemporary angles via Amanda's difficulties in adapting and/or believing (which are not dissimilar to Sam Tyler's). Given the tone of the first episode it would not surprise me if there will be much hilarity with a condom at some point - I know Amanda accidentally blurts out a swear word then has to pretend it's the name of a card game. Unlike "Life On Mars" and "Ashes to Ashes" the traveller here does not arrogantly assume their actions affect the known future, they merely affect the destiny of these Austen characters - mainly that Mr Darcy will fall for an even more fiesty, independent and modern woman than Lizzie Bennett. Lizzie Bennett, after all, is stuck in Hammersmith 2008.

THEY CAME FROM MANCHESTER: THE STORY OF MANCUNIAN POP

Or actually just a complilation of performances on the BBC from selected bands. And selected times too - it was very obvious where the preferences of the compliler lay. I can let it off starting in 1964, though there must have been some Mancunian element before then. No, it was the two big gaps in the timeline. First it jumped from 1967 to 1973 where 10cc and then Sweet Sensation gave two of the few actual 'pop' performances in colour here. Even more glaring was jumping from the Charlatans' "North Country Boy' in 1997 to the Ting Tings with "That's Not My Name' from this spring. Again, I'm VERY sure there were Mancunian bands and artists doing well inbetweentimes. This really wanted to focus on the punk/new wave era and then Madchester and it's spawn. Fine enough, but that wasn't on the label. Apart from that an enjoyable trip down memory lane as I happen to be OK with the selections. BBC4 last Friday.

EUROVISION DANCE CONTEST

I missed last year's debut event held in London and won by Finland. Mainly I was depressed that the punter voting went down to the same regional blocs as the song contest. Glasgow put on a good show though with a glamourous set and some sunny weather for the inserts. My fancies were toward the Swedish and Danish guys but it was a deserved win for the Polish couple.

JOANNA LUMLEY IN THE LAND OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

Sunday, BBC1. This was half good and half boring. The crew were obviously trying to fill an hour though. Unlike some of the Michael Palin escapades there seemed to be an imperative to cross Norway as slowly as possible. Not wise unless you're on a TV budget - Norway has always been notoriously expensive. Joanna kept going on about this childhood book that had first inspired her to see the Northern Lights. That was OK first time but we didn't need it with everyone she met. The interesting bits were with the reindeer herd, the ice hotel, and the bit when she finally experienced the "Northern Lights' first hand. I am truly hoping no CGI was at work there, but it looked fabulous.

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