Thursday, 12 June 2008

British television

Just in case anyone has been getting any ideas, rest assured, that my main love is still British drama and comedy – I thought that went without saying when I let the Americans have their day.

There are so many great series that they are actually too numerous to mention. On quiet nights I am thankful for UKTV where I can watch reruns of Cracker, Doc Martin, Grumpy Old Men, and Shameless. I have the boxed sets of various comedy shows including Blackadder and Black Books, which I can watch repeatedly, and often put on a couple of episodes to cheer me up when the dearth of decent television just gets too much.

I thought Cold Feet, Green Wing, Hearts and Bones, and Teachers were all fantastic, but they seem to have been and gone and the powers that be at New Zealand television seem to have no intention of showing them again. They have filled up their repeat schedule with endless reruns of Frasier and The Nanny.

Recently I have been watching Dr. Who, Mountain, Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure, Robin Hood, and Top Gear.

Much as I like Christopher Eccleston, I didn’t think there would ever be a Dr. Who to rival Tom Baker. I may have been wrong. David Tennant is excellent! The plots are still ludicrous and the monsters look like they’ve been sellotaped together, but the moving garden angel statues still managed to give me nightmares!

Top Gear is a classic with intelligent journalism, exquisite photography and entertaining banter. I know it's men behaving badly but I love it, and I don’t even really like cars (if it’s not an E-type Jag, it’s just a car) so that’s a real testament to its appeal. The spin-off Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure is an excellent with more of the same combination of enthusiasm and geekiness.

Mountain had the most fabulous scenery and Griff Rhys-Jones; what more could you want? It made me feel homesick for gentle hills and humour. Robin Hood is interesting. Robin’s a bit wet and Marian looks like she’s been slapped in the face with a halibut, but the merry men are fun, Dick Allen’s sheriff is a fantastic pantomime villain and Richard Armitage’s Sir Guy of Gisborne is incredibly sexy.

I am eagerly anticipating the second series of Life on Mars – a fabulous Manchester drama with a preposterous storyline and compelling acting. John Simm and Philip Glenister are a classic combination – The Sweeney dragged kicking and screaming into the present. Naturally it has been on in Britain and my mum keeps threatening to let slip what happens next.

I was recently very pleased to note the success of Lewis. I loved Inspector Morse and I watched this new series with great trepidation, worried that it might not be able to achieve the same cachet as it's parent programme. As it is, the sergeant has grown into a great inspector (although the directors have cunningly got rid of his wife - obviously they only complicate things and prevent the great detective mind from solving cases, flirting with ladies and drinking pints), and I really like his new sidekick too. Oxford is a stunningly picturesque setting and I can annoy fellow watchers by playing 'spot the pub' and reminiscing about my youth.

Him indoors is of course a Coronation Street fan – I blame the parents. He has watched it since he was a kid and is a big admirer of all things Jack and Vera. We now watch it religiously twice a week and he refuses to find out what happens ‘in the future’, although we are a year behind and lagging further every episode.

When we were first courting, I was an
Eastenders girl – it’s a north/south divide thing – but the television scheduling in New Zealand soon cured me of that habit. I suppose I have something to be grateful for after all.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

American television

Last night was the last of the season of Boston Legal. I have been following that programme with interest as one of the best programmes to come out of America since M*A*S*H.

I love the acting and the scriptwriting. I know it is ludicrous but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It is a great drama full of comedy and issues and, unusual in American dramas, satire.

I also enjoy House, Brothers and Sisters, and Desperate Housewives.There is a glossy glamour to all of these shows which combine some good acting and assured directing.

Hugh Laurie is a wonderfully cantankerous old man, and his American accent isn’t too bad either – someone I know recently expressed surprise that he was British – but then she is 22 and has no memory of his comedy excellence from A Bit of Fry and Laurie onwards.

I know that Brothers and Sisters is emotionally manipulative, and yet I am prepared to be seduced by this big dysfunctional family with their overwhelming problems and their underpinning love for each other. I can even tolerate Calista Flockhart, who isn’t as annoyingly irritating in this as she usually is.

And I could watch Rob Lowe ad infinitum – I have been a fan ever since my teenaged days of watching The Outsiders and believing that nobody understood me. I was horrified recently when my mum confessed to having a thing for him too – it’s just not right to fancy the same blokes as your mum! I told her to leave me Rob Lowe and Robert Carlyle; she can have Robert Redford and Sean Connery.

I can even persuade my husband to watch Desperate Housewives, although he pretends to watch it under sufferance. He is not so secretly hoping that Eva Longoria will get her kit off and Teri Hatcher will keep hers on. I recently read that Calista Flockhart auditioned for the part of Susan Mayer, but lost the role to Teri Hatcher. Interesting…

Horror of all horrors, I have just taken the on-line test to see which Deperate Housewife I am, and it turns out I am Susan! Best not tell my husband.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Devils review

There is a review for our play of The Devils on the Lumiere website.

You can now read what someone else thought of our demonic possession, although the reviewer mentions that the play was set in 'murderous medieval England', when in fact it is seventeenth century France - where there were tens of thousands of people persecuted and killed for their religion.

During this period, there were about sixty people murdered for similar offences in England. This is a big distinction, as it reveals the terror and the pervasive evil of the times. However, of course when referring to religious persecution, one death is one too many.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Food and drink in Auckland

When we were in Auckland for the weekend, we went out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant. A strange place, but it was full of Chinese folk; always a good sign. The fact that we couldn't read the menus - all in Chinese characters - was a bit daunting, but we pressed ahead and they did have an English translation.

As soon as we sat down we were brought bowls of steaming soup. We tried to explain that we'd not ordered anything yet but were assured it was free. It was also grey and very watery, probably just the drippings from the duck fat tray, but actually quite tasty, especially as I was still nursing a hangover and the others were recovering from their race. We also had a pot of red tea delivered to our table, which was free too and 'better than green tea', or so we were told.

The food that we did pay for was very tasty. Spaz was a hungry monster and in refuelling mode he shovelled up the remnants of anything anyone couldn't eat - hence he had a tasty sweet and sour pork with black bean sauce and deep fried noodles - an authentic Chinese combination.

His hunger pangs were killed off with a few pints of Monteiths Black, so we didn't stop off at the demonic pie cart on our way back to the backpackers. I saw this place the next day in the light, and I can imagine that the demonic aspect is well and truely deserved.

And here is a picture of his favourite street in Auckland - no prizes for guessing why!