TV Blog: The best (and worst) of the week's telly
It all went a bit Final Destination this week in EastEnders (BBC1, Thursday) with born again nut-job Lucas accidentally impaling his ex-lover on a rake and leaving her to die. In soap all Christians under 60 invariably turn out to be psychopaths but the show exceeded my expectations with the garden implement-to-the-neck incident and Lucas’ poor attempts to hide the evidence. All enjoyably silly stuff and nicely bloody for a pre-watershed show though I’m slightly disappointed to see EastEnders reverting to type in how it presents religious people.
Thankfully the Square’s Muslim population fair slightly better. While the Masood family have an unfortunate habit of explaining Islamic traditions to each other just for the sake of uninformed viewers, at least they are shown as a normal family and not potential killers. A gay affair and an unwanted baby storyline for them are decent attempts at engaging with the clashes between religious heritage and modern life. It’s a shame a similar tack wasn’t taken with Lucas, as his attempts to cover up a fling at the time as starting a new church was really interesting. But hey! If you ARE going to sell a storyline short there's surely no better way than by doing something this grizzly at 8pm on a weeknight.
With soap bosses turning mainstream drama into splatter film territory it’s great to see the reverse happening as BBC3’s superb horror series Being Human (BBC1, Thursday) makes the leap onto terrestrial telly, albeit being repeated in a late night slot. There’s been a growing realisation in British TV that shows with a strong sci-fi or fantasy element can appeal beyond a cult fan base and stand as good drama in their own right. Being Human is a shining example of this and deserves the chance to pick up more viewers.
A story about a werewolf, a vampire, and a ghost sharing a house in Bristol, the show follows these ‘monsters’ as they try to blend in to society whilst struggling with their conditions. As strong on pathos and comedy as it is on visceral violence, Being Human is a clever mixing of relationship drama and heightened reality, with the supernatural aspects nicely balanced by a domestic set up which perfectly captures the dynamic of mid-twenties flat sharing. Magic stuff, roll on series two.
Speaking of heightened reality, when I started this blog I swore to my editor that I wasn’t going to cover Big Brother (Channel 4, Friday) but the news that next year's series will be the last (on C4 at least) means it is definitely worth a mention – even just to breath a sigh of relief.
When BB first aired it may have been in bad taste but it was genuinely original, offering a fascinating insight into 24-hour culture and human psychology. While guilty of feeding the grim cult of celebrity, it has also done much to critique it; with the planting of a non-celebrity (Chantelle) into Celebrity Big Brother and allowing Jade Goody (RIP) to expose her racism.
But really, what more can we learn from yet another bundle of giggling wannabes and shameless exhibitionists? Nine years is far, far too long to have gone on. Recently the show's best moments have all occurred in licensed parodies – when Christopher Eccleston was trapped in the house in Doctor Who and Davina became a zombie in Dead Set. Tuning in to watch this year’s finale the most interesting thing I discovered was that McCall is currently sporting a Morrissey style quiff. Good news for fans of The Smiths but not great telly.
Channel 4 is famous for its innovation but has been stuck in a Big Brother rut for the best part of a decade. I'm over the moon that they are freeing up it's considerable budget to invest in new programming come 2011. Times up... they're coming to get you!
EastEnders is available on the iplayer
Being Human is also available on the iplayer
Big Brother is available on 4OD