TV Blog: The best (and worst) of the week's telly

Blog by Chris Lindsay | 14 Sep 2009
  • Derren Brown

Thank goodness BBC3’s ‘wacky’ new sitcom We Are Klang (BBC3, Monday) finished this week. The team behind the show may have received their share of plaudits at the Fringe in the last few years but their charmless, sub Mighty Boosh comedy about a run down town council is creakingly stale and lifeless, and for the most part, crushingly unfunny.

Like series one of the ’Boosh the show presents itself as a children’s show gone wrong; characterised by daft sing-a-longs, silly costumes and flights of whimsy, all shot through with dark humour. But while Fielding and Barratt's antics coasted on the likability of its stars, We Are Klang spend most of their time shouting at the audience like Rik Mayall on an off day - no one’s idea of fun. While the anarchic set up begs comparison to Mayall et al in The Young Ones, Klang lack the sense of zeitgeist grabbing joy that fizzes through that 80s classic.

Under written and apathetically directed, the group’s sight gags and one-liners constantly misfire and have to be covered up by a laughter track. The neat idea of using the studio audience as participants - the council’s “Department of Audience” - is the only original spark on show and this is sorely underused. While a few routines – notably the use of some wonderfully cheap props – manage to raise a chuckle, the laughs are far too far and few between to justify a second series. Boo!

Not struggling to generate the laughs is US import Harper’s Island (BBC3, Sunday and Wednesday), a gleefully bloody slasher serial and the latest in a long line of HIGH! CONCEPT! DRAMAS! from across the pond. In best horror movie form, it sees a group of ever so beautiful twenty-thirty somethings come together on a remote island for a glamorous wedding only to be picked off one by one by a serial killer. The trailers promise that at least one cast member will die per episode but if the opening is anything to go by expect that average to be higher.

Whether you’ll enjoy Harper’s Island depends very much on your position on the genre but if your tastes run to inventively gruesome deaths, cheesy dialogue and needlessly convoluted plotlines there is a lot here to love. Add to that some self-aware scripts and a genuinely strong cast and this has all the makings of essential TV. The amount of likeable characters on show (as well as some total bounders) allows for the tension to build up to fever pitch in the will they-won’t they get splattered/decapitated/burnt/drowned/hanged stakes.

As the gap between movies and television becomes ever narrower it’s great to see a cinema genre so ably making the transition onto the small screen. Harper’s Island has had a strong start and hopefully it can maintain the tension and mystery throughout its whole run, although by now the bride should really have noticed that her guest list is becoming evermore thin on the ground!

“Don’t let you’re guard down” is a good mantra for surviving a horror show but essential if you ever want to try and get the better of Derren Brown, who returned this week with The Events (Channel 4, Wednesday and Friday). During the first of four specials he managed to successfully predict the National Lottery numbers for last Wednesday’s draw. Camera trickery? Super hohi-tech lasers? LED enhanced ping-pong balls? Offices and homes across the country were a buzz with theories as to how he pulled it off and awaited Friday’s show where he purported to explain his methods.

Brown’s shtick relies on ‘magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship’ and it’s important to realise that these misdirections continue after the stunts have finished and into the sections where he claims to reveal his secrets; where he says a lot but tells you nothing at the same time. So how did he do it? Some have suggested camera trickery but for those less cynical, the credibility of any alternative rests on whether you put any store in the ‘deep maths’ of predicting random sequences and the power of ‘crowd wisdom’ in making collective guesses that turn out to be accurate. Anyone with an appreciation of quantum physics will know there is far more credence in these seemingly pseudoscientific theories than many are comfortable with but as to whether using them alongside spiritualist techniques can yield these sort of money making results is questionable at best. Certainly Brown is giving nothing away. A great magician never reveals his secrets after all…

If you want to waste your time We Are Klang is available on the BBC iplayer

You can catch up on the thrills of Harper’s Island on the BBC iplayer

See if you can work out how Derren Brown pulled off The Events over at 4od