Monday, May 30, 2016

Two disappointing TV programmes and one piece of good news...

Sabine Schmitz wearing enough leather for a part in The Musketeers

I watched two rather disappointing TV programmes over the last few days.  One I was expecting to be bad the other not so.  

I was not surprised that Top Gear was no good. The BBC fielded a man on the news, yesterday, who said it still had the fantastic photography (which it did) and that was a big part of the show. It was an impressive part of the show but not as big a part of the show as the deluded BBC thought (or hoped). 

 The Old Bat always watched Top Gear, even though she has no interest in cars whatsoever but she said she was "bored" after twenty minutes. The reviews have been pretty poor and in keeping, basically, the same ingredients the BBC has shown that the show really was about the three former presenters and not the format itself.  It would have been braver to try something really different and avoid invidious comparisons but they didn't; obviously too worried about their overseas sales to change anything. 

I can't agree with those (and there seem to be quite a few) who liked Matt LeBlanc. I couldn't understand a word he said - especially when he was on location. Although we all know a lot of old Top Gear was scripted it never sounded scripted whereas every word of this obviously was.  Like many actors, LeBlanc flounders without a script but even with a script his presentation was dead. We definitely needed more Sabine Schmitz, though; she was wasted in the first episode. She has ten times more personality than LeBlanc 

Watching Top Gear is giving me a migraine

I actually used to quite like Chris Evans in his Don't Forget Your Toothbrush days but his strangled attempt at forcing his rather naturally high voice down an octave into a Clarkson impression was most odd and the most uncomfortable thing about an uncomfortable viewing experience.   The whole show also seemed wearingly frantic, as if that alone might make it exciting, with Evans striding around the studio like an orangutan that has escaped from its enclosure at the zoo.  The celebrity guest stars were rather low rent.  Gordon Ramsay (who I detest) and some American I had never heard of.  In discussing it with one of my friends this mornings she thought those who become guests of the new show should join a list of traitors to Top Gear, like Quislings.  Like new nude free Playboy I will give it one more chance but I suspect, like NF Playboy, I will abandon it.

I've always enjoyed The Musketeers, even if the costumes suffered from the usual 'need to reflect the character rather than be historically accurate' syndrome. Today's costumiers just love leather (it's all the Lord of the Rings fault).  This weekend's episode actually opened with a battle scene which I should have loved.  It had a pike block! Spaniards in morions! Muskets with rests!  Cannons behind earthworks!

Back to CGI Paris, mes amis!

The trouble was, the director had no idea how to shoot a battle scene so you were always aware of all the empty space behind the extras.  Closer framing or even a little CGI would have helped it from looking quite so...Sharpeish.  Still, you are unlikely to get many tasset wearing pikemen on prime time TV otherwise.   I found the episode a bit flat and they have done the people trapped in a monastery story before (and the shooting a barrel of gunpowder stunt) but this time there was an added stupid teenage boy too and cute children.  Ugh!.  Never mind they are back in Paris next week.

There were also not nearly enough enticing ladies of the court in bodices or floaty lingerie. Charlotte Salt from Series Two is much missed by the Legatus.  Her scene in a window in Series 2 providing a particularly effective paean to the erotic power of the back of the thighs.  This is the last series of The Musketeers and we hope the other remaining episodes don't show the spark has gone out of the programme with the departure of creator Adrian Hodges.

"What lovely chandeliers!"
"How kind, your Majesty!"

Never mind, Versailles starts on Wednesday and there are plenty of underdressed ladies of the court in that.  Rather too many for the Daily Mail, and one of our MPs (who really should be worrying about more important things), who were getting in a right old tizz in March because of all the racy scenes.  Typically, the French were only concerned about historical inaccuracies and the fact it was made in English despite being a French production.  Despite the Daily Mail banging on about the "most explicit sex scenes to be seen on the BBC" the French DVD of the series has the equivalent of a 'U' cert, demonstrating that France is far more grown up than Britain is.

Look!  Serves ten!

One thing that has cheered me up this week, regarding the TV, is the news that the annoying Hemsley sisters' nutritionally dubious cooking programme has been moved from Monday to Friday nights because of plummeting ratings.  TV executives believe that Friday is a graveyard slot for programmes because everyone is out on Friday night (well, they are; looking for biodynamic dinner in Islington).  In addition, real cooks and nutritionists are pointing out that the Hemsleys have no training in cooking or nutrition and that their fixation on dropping some types of food from your diet (basically anything that tastes nice) leaves you not getting enough nutrients.   I am sure that it was their deluded espousal of a spinach infested "full monty" cooked breakfast that put paid to their reputations more than anything else.  No second series for you I think!  Spralise that, twittering twiglets!


  1. The highpoint of Chris Evans's career was very definitely the first 2 or 3 "Don't Forget Your Toothbrush" a genuinely unique, anarchic and entertaining programme. But he's a textbook "Marmite" character who was never going to appeal to the remarkable niche audience that Top Gear gathered over the years. Clarkson is a professional journalistic and the great strength of his scripts were that they appeared to be just 3 blokes cocking about. The BBC are fixated with having "celebrities" attached to every programme and, as a result, they've killed off the most consistently successful global show they've ever had.

    1. Yes, they should be publicly accountable for losing such an important revenue stream.

  2. You missed a tour around Sabines home on Monday night with the dire half hour extra show!

  3. My son loves Top Gear and I was surprised he wanted me to turn over half way through, stating it was not funny and that he could not understand what Le Blanc was saying.. I see clearly the BBC's format of celebrity presenters just ruins a perfectly good program. I cant comment on the Musketeers as I have not yet watched it, but I have found that the first episode of the previous series to be a bit lack lustre. Maybe its because the end so well we expect them to be as good at the start.

  4. I have no interest in Top Gear without the trio that was there before. Musketeers I love but have to agree the battle scene at the start was a bit odd and you have highlighted exactly why yet the fog of war after the battle was pretty good.

    I am looking forward to more escapades and I am sad this will be the final series.

  5. Only watched the Clarkson version of TG a couple of times - can't abide any of the trio who presented it. Gave up on The Musketeers after about three episodes of the first series. Avoid cookery programmes lilke the plague. So, good news to me for two out of three. Sad about Top Gear though , if only to prove the Clarksonistas wrong. However, Fraulein Schmitz . . . . Mmmmmmm . . . .