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

Blog by Chris Lindsay | 21 Sep 2009
  • Peep Show

You just can't get the staff these days... or so you'd think by watching the shambles that is Live From Studio Five (Channel Five, daily). In attempting to out One Show the Beeb, Channel Five have chosen to front their chirpy magazine programme with Ian Wright, Melinda Messenger and The Apprentice runner up, Kate Walsh - three people with no professional training in TV. Any real presenters who auditioned for this job must be pretty stung at being usurped by a footballer, a glamour model and a reality TV star but they can take condolence from the fact that the whole thing is a total car wreck.

An hour of live TV is a lot of time to fill and doing so actually takes skill. Usually when a non-presenter hosts a show they're paired with a more seasoned pro but Five seem happy just to let these three stretch out the time by jabbering over each other like idiots.

The whole thing feels shoddy; showing us clips from The Oprah Winfrey Show does not constitute an 'exclusive interview' and poor Patrick Swayze deserved a better tribute than having Wrighty chuckle over clips from Ghost and then showing us YouTube videos of newly weds murdering Dirty Dancing routines. Other 'highlights' included Melinda wondering what George Bush had done to deserve to having shoes thrown at him and Kate patronising Peter Andre (now Show Biz corespondent for This Morning) about his interviewing skills after having just herself performed the single blandest interview in human history. Leave it to the pros guys...

A far better brand of squirming awkwardness was on offer as the brilliant Peep Show (Channel 4, Friday) returned this week for its sixth series. The cult sitcom filmed through the eyes of the main characters was deemed something of a failure when it launched to low ratings in 2003. But in 2009's landscape of shrinking viewing figures it now looks positively rosy, simply by having retained its audience. That a show has inspired such loyalty is something a minor miracle these days but will come as no surprise to those who've followed it throughout.

Starring, though not written by, sketch duo Mitchell and Webb the show is the perfect vehicle for their respective middle class loser and delusional weirdo shtick but plays to the darker aspects of their humour, with the two flatmates still stuck in their endless cycle of self destruction.

The current trend among British sitcom, especially underground shows like Peep Show, has been to bow out after only two or three seasons in order to avoid becoming stale but it's great to see a series unafraid to embrace its success and managing to remain constantly fresh. Concerns that the star's rising profiles would cause the producers to tone down the black humour - especially since David Mitchell is now a regular on tame BBC panel shows - thankfully go unfounded and Peep Show remains as sharp and barbed as ever. Marvellous stuff.

At the other end of the quality scale we find Trinity (ITV2, Sunday) a yoof drama-thriller supposedly set in the 'most elite university in the UK' but so far removed from reality as to be completely bewildering. A British show set in 2009 it is intended as a highly ironic and stylised take on Oxbridge snobbery and old-school ties but instead comes across as some weird American idea of what a 1950s English university would be like; admitting its first black student and female lecturer to 'shake things up' and 'enter the 21st century'. Trinity College is a place where evil toffs urinate on students of low breeding and landed gentry bonk their cousins while seducing penniless 1930s style Catholic girls. Imagine Brideshead Revisited meets a really bad episode of Skins and you're getting close.

At points a sense of fun almost begins to creep through; as silly Sci-Fi trappings and hints of a dark conspiracy come to the fore, but any enjoyment is quickly derailed by the horrendously 2D cast who behave in and out of character from scene to scene. Whenever the show looks as if its developing into something more rounded the creaking unreality of the piece rears its head and bursts any chance to be swept along in the story.

In order to review Trinity I had to sit through an advert for one of those dreadful Best Ever Mega Bonkers Ultimate Hardcore Anthems XII compilations. Normally that'd be the low point of my viewing week but in this case it came as a blessed relief. The show ended with an extended trailer for the following episode; as if the producers were saying 'we know this was shit but please, please, come back next week, it'll be much better we promise.' Part two is available online and I'm almost tempted to watch as surely nothing could be this bad two weeks in a row but I doubt I'll muster the energy as quite simply Trinity is the single worst piece of writing on TV all year.

 

Live From Studio Five is not available to rewatch online. This is no great shame.

This week's Peep Show, as well as the previous 5 wonderful series, is available to watch at 4od.

The first and second episodes of Trinity are available to watch at ITV.com. Good luck.