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Summer catch-up: Television and radio

Posted: June 28th, 2008, by Marceline Smith

Densha Otoko (Train Man)
I bought this off eBay thinking it was the film my sister saw on the plane to Japan last year but it turned out to be the TV series. The Japanese seem very big on extending everything until there is a manga, film, TV drama and anime. It’s the (based on a) true story of an otaku (geek) who stands up to a drunken man on a train who is harassing some women. The pretty girl sends him a thank you gift and Train Man posts on his geeky internet forum for advice on how to interact with her and get a date. Obviously, much hilarity ensues but it’s all very sweet and touching, and all the forum losers learn some valuable life lessons about interacting with your fellow humans. I’m only about half way through but I’m sure it’s all going to work out in the end and she’ll learn to love him and his hilariously nerdy manga obsessed friends for who they really are. Cue blubbing. Not that I’m not already blubbing enough just at the many shots of the JR rail network. I miss Japan! [Marceline Smith]

The Wire
I’m several series in now and waiting for the rest to arrive on DVD. It’s like The Sopranos but with more focus, street-smarts and endlessly cool characters and storylines. Bearing in mind that The Sopranos itself is absolutely outstanding, you can understand how highly I rate this show. [Simon Minter]

I Deal
Although in its fourth series I only discovered ‘I Deal’ this summer. A quirky and endearing little sitcom produced by BBC Comedy North and Baby Cow Productions (home to Gavin and Stacey and The Mighty Boosh). Johnny Vegas stars as small-time dope dealer Moz. Who lives in a Salford bedsit. The entire series takes place in his flat, the hall outside, his timid neighbour Judith’s flat, (Joanna Neary) It revolves around the eclectic array of recurring characters that come to visit Moz to buy cannabis, socialise or both. Moz is a likeable character  who sees himself as providing a crucial service to the community only dealing weed to a group of around 20 or 30 friends and acquaintances, who are a collection of oddballs and misfits. Players include Jenny the childminder (Sinead Matthews): One sandwich short of a picnic, she is dubbed Carol Laudanum by Moz’s character.  The most surreal character is Cartoon Head, who is really hard but always wears a cartoon mask and is flanked by sidekick Psycho Paul. Brian (Graham Duff), who also wrote the series, is a camp scally who has a different boyfriend every time he visits. PC (Tom Goodman-Hill) is Moz’s chief supplier, and is involved with his girlfriend Nikki (Nicola Reynolds.) A delightful cameo comes care of veteran comedian Mick Miller who plays Vegas’s absentee dad. He is always promising to bring his expectant son a big TV! Like Phoenix Nights the supporting characters are played by upcoming talent from across the north of England. As the hapless Moz Vegas cuts a Harold Steptoe like figure, you feel sorry for him. He uses pathos and gentle sarcasm brilliantly in a series chock full of surreal chaotic mayhem. Vegas used the analogy in defence of the subject matter of the show saying Steptoe and Son ‘certainly didn’t make you want to become a rag and bone man!’ [Mandy Williams]

The Apprentice / Hollyoaks
I got suckered into The Apprentice. I think it’s the lack of new Top Gear that’s doing it. Hollyoaks also. I only watch Hollyoaks to spot the one-weekly “Hollyoaks shoulder stare” where a character hugs another character but when they look over their shoulder their face gives away their true intentions. Heavy. My housemate ruined the next few weeks by sussing that Newt’s mate who eggs him on to violence is a figment of his imagination. Maybe the writers have been watching Dead Man’s Shoes? Enjoying the England-less European Championships as well. Today, we are all Dutch. [Chris Summerlin]

With LOST finished for the year and S5 of The Wire not due on DVD for a while, I found myself panicking. Srsly, I live for LOST. I’ve been getting up at 8am every Friday to download the latest episodes (I am self-employed btw, I can stay in bed all day if I like) and spent part of Friday evening at ATP watching LOST at Greg Kitten’s chalet. It’s possible I will have chewed my fingers off by the time February 2009 comes around so I need to find some televisual distraction that Amazon DVD rental can pump out at regular intervals and keep me sane. I tried Heroes first, after many recommendations, but found it totally lame in characterisation and storyline. I then turned to 24 which is much more to my liking. The storylines are completely ridiculous, yet so many things happen so fast that you never have much of a chance to pick at any plot holes; it all seems simultaneously predictable and surprising, and stupidly entertaining. Plus there’s like 8 seasons – that should keep me quiet for a while. [Marceline Smith]

Arrested Development / Trailer Park Boys / Japanorama
cheating again, I just can’t keep to one and it is thanks to torrents that ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT season three and every season of TRAILER PARK BOYS are making me laugh out loud.  Additionally downloads of JAPANORAMA fill me with glee and expand my horizons. [JGram]

Doctor Who
As an unreconstructed geek, Doctor Who is still the only tv programme I tune in for regularly.  This series seems to be following the pattern of the last – starting off with frothy, lightweight episodes and getting increasingly dark.  I just hope they don’t ruin the finale with anything as bad as last year’s “the Doctor as Jesus” nonsense. [Alex McChesney]

The Wire
If you don’t already know all about this series you really should do something about it, because it’s the television equivalent of heroin. It really does make me wonder if DVD boxsets were invented purely to allow you to mainline 3 or 4 (hour-long) episodes in a row. And this is coming from someone whose usual TV-watching schedule consists of switching the fucking thing off whenever I can. [Dave Stockwell]

Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour
The highlight of the week for me is Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour. Presented by, Elbow frontman and ‘all-round thinking woman’s beardy crumpet.’ The show is on Radio 6 at 10-12 on a Sunday night or listen again, and again and again.  Guy’s style is incredibly warm and intimate. He entertains with tales from his showbiz lifestyle and chats with up and coming artists such as Jesca Hoop and Emmy the Great. From Band of Horses to Ella Fitzgerald you wont find a better show on radio. He brings a musician’s taste to the playlist so it’s always an education but like listening to tunes with your mate too. The broad range of musical genres is in stark contrast to the usual mainstream offerings . Features include “Wasn’t Les Dawson Great?” His favourites include Ivor Cutler and Talk Talk. While his oracle Beccipedia tells us stuff ‘we need to know.’ Sometimes he even has his mum phone in to tell him to ‘have a couple of large brandies and make summat up.’ Curl up in bed with a hot drink and ease yourself into the working week in the best possible way. [Mandy Williams]

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


2 Responses to Summer catch-up: Television and radio

  1. wil

    Yeah, arrested development rules. I wrote a piece about it here:http://www.acidlogic.com/mm_freaks_geeks_arrested_development.htm

  2. Jason Graham

    I hear an Arrested Development movie may be in the works

    Season three just had me in stitches in ways that were unexpected and really made me smile during a tough period

    to tie it in with Juno (Jason Bateman and Michael Cera being in both Juno and AR), Trailer Park Boys featured Ellen Page in a great role in many episodes of season 2

    The Wire – of course! season five contained so many jawdropping moments and true surprises.

    And I should have been brave and mentioned Gavin And Stacey for being a truly wonderfully funny series with real feel good qualities

    Oh! And Love Soup! just like Woody Allen making a TV series