This week I have mostly been socialising and entertaining. Yeah, drinking and laughing a lot. Which is a good thing, int it?
Anyway, in between all this merriment and unexpected arrangements, I have actually been trying to catch up on all the telly goodness I’ve been missing. First though, a gripe.
I, along with a lot of other ex-pats and general viewers, pay to watch BBC Entertainment, one of five BBC channels available to cable or broadband subscribers over here in Hong Kong. As channels go, it’s pretty poor. Gratuitous repeats of ‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Little Britain’ (series one), ‘Life On Mars’ (series one!), ‘Hustle’ (series three), and complete and utter shite like ‘Footballers’ Wives’ (puh-leeeze…) make you wonder why you bother. Then they pull out all the stops for a fantastic, amazing February – and what do we get? ‘Robin Hood’. Series one.
Riiiiiiiiiight. “Saw it, tolerated it, turned off the pirate DVD and dropped it somewhere I forget,” would be the best summation of that particular series.
So it came as a shock – and not a pleasant one, I can tell you that – to find that ATV, one of the local Hong Kong terrestrial channels, is showing ‘Doctor bloody Who’ – SERIES THREE – starting February 14th and running fert next twelve weeks. Free channel. Free. No broadband boxes required. Just turn ont telly, and bam, there it is. Hmm.
Good for ATV. Bad for BBC.
And ooh lookie, they’re also showing ‘The Sarah Jane Adventures’ on Sunday afternoon fert kiddies. Fantastic for Hong Kong kiddies, another point lost by the Beeb.
I’m not upset cos it’s free. I’m upset that I pay for a bloody channel run by the Beeb themselves, and yet they’d rather make money selling it to the local network to show for free (with adverts! Adverts!) than put it on the channel that people actually pay for anyway. Cos let’s see, ooh, letting Beeb subscriber’s in Hong Kong see it first COS THEY PAY FOR THE BLOODY CREATORS’ CHANNEL would be wrong, when you can make money selling it to ATV first. You do realise we will get ‘Doctor bloody Who’ series three eventually in Hong Kong. I say eventually – I mean 2009. I e-mailed em and asked the bastards when they were going to let us watch it on the subscribed channel. Could they afford to bump the 379th repeat of ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ or ‘Spooks’ to possibly squeeze in a little new programming? And I’m sorry, but ‘Robin Hood’? ‘Robin bloody Hood’? Are you taking the piss? This is the flagship series for BBC Entertainment in Asia? Really? Really?
And let’s not even get onto how they pixel out the merest suggestion of a patch of skin or flesh in any shape or form – and every single word that even falls into a grey area (‘crap’, etc.) is bleeped out or simply dropped from the soundtrack? I shit you not – the slightest mention of impropriety is vanished from the soundtrack or picture, Gestapo-style, until it defeats the object of watching the Gene Genie int first place. Gone are all those golden one-liners, replaced by background noise cos he called someone a ‘nonce’. Yes, ‘nonce’. Not the nicest of words, I grant you, but really? Really? Isn’t there summat else they could be doing to waste as much time?
All of which brings me to the fact that the telly I’ve been catching up on has been ‘Ashes To Ashes’, ‘Torchwood’ and ‘Supernatural’. A weird combo, I know, but it’s all so very, very good.
Let’s start with ‘Ashes To Ashes’, shall we? Sat and watched a double-bill of episodes one and two of this shiny, shiny new series. First thoughts? Not exactly gelling with me at moments, and yet the Gene Genie is so very good. Back with a vengeance, except he’s also got a Sam side at times. Not bad at all, not bad at all. The settings and costumes, cars and wine bars, it’s all good. DCI Alex Drake? Not so sure… Didn’t take to her very easily int first episode, but during the second ep while the poor bird’s doing her ‘this is my fantasy, I’ll do what I want and you lot will bloody well listen to me’, I did start to like her a lot. And they have given us a new series so far – and at least they’re not trading on Sam Tyler to get em by with this new tart. Speaking of which, I’m not happy with poor Sam carking it in a river due to chasing robbery suspects, or whatever the excuse was for him having disappeared. It does throw up all kinds of metaphysical and quantum-related arguments such as just how linear Time is supposed to be, and how it’s supposed to pass in different situations. I was upset to see newspaper clippings in Gene’s office with headlines like ‘Force pays tribute to Tyler’ etc., after he’s supposed to have died in the river – except no body was found. Insert another round of ‘hmm’s here. Anyway, it’s doing the job at the moment, so I’ll be hanging on for all eight episodes (I assume the format will be the same), but I’m already hoping they won’t drag this out for two series.
‘Torchwood’ then. Cracking first episode, good second and third, but the hyowj alien space-slug ‘Meat’ episode was the best I’ve seen so far. Lots more ‘just who is this Jack person anyway?’ stuff, more Ianto being a bloody hero and getting most, if not all, of the best one-liners (the phone gag was ace, as was his penchant for slipping in comments when no-one else is supposed to be listening). Oh yes, we like Ianto for his derring-do sentences. He is well-liked in our house just cos he’s funny. Of course he couldn’t knock Jack off our top spot (ooh-err Missus), but that goes without saying.
And so to ‘Supernatural’. How absolutely cracking were that first episode of season three (‘The Magnificent Seven’)? Someone’s definitely whacked up the gain on Sam’s whole ‘Ah’m savin’ ma brother’ thing while throwing in new characters that are thankfully not going to irritate me, and then we have all kinds of personal hunts going on with purr wee Sam. And let’s not forget Dean’s new-found ‘live before I die – or rather, get sucked down into Hell’ kick. It’s all good. It’s all fab. And the second episode ‘The Kids Are Alright’ had me in stitches. There were so many hilarious moments as purr neglected Dean tries to believe that the wee kiddie he meets is not actually the result of one of his weekend chick-orientated roadtrips in his dim and distant past after all. But then him being all disappointed and doing the balloon-burst shoulder-sag manoeuvre as he finds out for definite that little Ben is not his kid was heart-breaking. Awww... it’s going to be a bumpy ride for both brothers before all this is sorted out, and no mistake.
Which, according to reports, may never happen. Apparently the CW channel has not yet commissioned the rest of season three for filming, post-WGA strike. We think this is wrong. We think this sucks. We think this series is in dire need of finishing its third season, and possibly another season after that. We think it’s the best telly to come out of the US since… er… hang on… let’s see… carry the one, add the three… oh yeah, since sliced bread.
Unfortunately, TV execs don’t seem to care. We hated them for cancelling ‘Firefly’ too, but who noticed? Well, Joss Whedon and his pals, obviously, seeing as he went about making the film ‘Serenity’ to produce some kind of ending for us poor neglected viewers. And although we had to make do with two hours instead of a whole new season and probably twelve or even thirteen hours of Cap’n Mal Sir and his crew, we snapped his hand off cos it was all we were going to get. Let’s just hope ‘Supernatural’ doesn’t go the same way.
Anyway, think that’s everything. Have to sort my life out and get down to the pub quiz.
BBC ~ Hong Kong ~ TV ~ Doctor Who ~ Robin Hood ~ A2A ~ Torchwood ~ Ianto Jones ~ Supernatural ~ Sam Winchester ~ Dean Winchester ~ Firefly ~ Serenity