TV I have been watching

Gideon’s Daughter
Let’s face it – I watched this (and ‘Friends and Crocodiles’ earlier in the year) because the adverts said it was written by somebody called ‘Stephen Poliakoff‘, who is apparently some kind of giant in the television drama who I really should have heard of but hadn’t. Somebody with a name like that must be good, right? As it turned out I enjoyed both dramas. I found them to be interesting little stories, well told. Whether they had any deeper meaning I have no idea – too many years of English Lit. have made me nervous about reading too much into things – but I have a feeling that you take out as much as you want to.

Davina McCall’s chat show recently started on BBC1, and it’s quite odd. I find her very appealing as a presenter, and have been known to keep watching an otherwise uninteresting programme because she, unlike countless other automatons, seems to have quite a bit about her. She’s comfortable on-camera, constantly ad-libbing and always copes very well with the unexpected. A chat show seems a strange choice, though, and last Wednesday’s show was a little disappointing. Firstly, because she is so likeable I found myself more interested in her than the guest. For her to retreat and give them take centre stage is almost a waste. Still, this could work quite well if she uses her charm to ask interesting and probing questions. Sadly, she never gets the chance – on Wednesday’s show there were so many guests on the hour-long programme that they were allotted ten minutes each, which was barely enough to plug their latest single/film/book. Maybe a different format, with longer interviews, would work better. I flipped over to Kirstie and Phil before the show even ended. Shame.

Casualty / Holby City
I was going to use the words ‘guilty pleasures’ in this paragraph, but I don’t think I will. I actually find myself looking forward to these two, which is a major turnaround from a few years back when I avoided them completely. I think it’s because they’ve gone back to concentrating on staff members over 21 years old, with the result that they’re not entirely based around love triangles any more. The acting’s good, the characters likeable and the scripts are usually nicely written (albeit with the odd dodgy episode – I keep meaning to check whether they’re all by the same writer.) I find them decent, easy entertainment, and I’m not ashamed to say so 🙂

Deal or No Deal
I heard from various people how good Channel 4’s new afternoon show was, so caught an episode last week1. I figured it was some kind of quiz show, which I can normally enjoy as I like trying to answer the questions. Turns out, not so much. If you don’t know the format of Deal or No Deal, here’s how it works: A contestant randomly chooses one of twenty-two boxes, each of which contain a different sum of money varying from 1p up to £200,000. The contestant then opens the remaining boxes, one by one, revealing how much money he hasn’t won. Every few boxes a ‘banker’ will call and offer the contestant £x if he’ll walk away immediately. If he doesn’t ‘deal’ in this way, the contestant is eventually left with two boxes, his own and one remaining, and has to decide which one to open.

It’s mental. To be fair, I may have seen a slightly dodgy episode. The one I watched had the contestant demanding that everybody ‘send him their positivity.’ Every time a box was opened to reveal an amount less than £1000 the audience exploded into applause. The presenter, Noel Edmonds, kept wittering on about how much he believed in this system, and wasn’t something really amazing happening. For ages I figured I must be missing something – it seemed to be all random chance. And, yes, it was. The only skill involved, as far as I can tell, is to add up the amounts remaining in the boxes, divide by the number of boxes left, and see whether your answer is lower than whatever the banker is offering you – if it is, ‘deal’!2 This particular show resulted in the man turning down £40,000 and ending up with £10,000. My initial comments were slightly more scathing – I think “complete bag of toss” was the phrase that I used when describing it to Mum – but I think that’s just because I like to see people tested for rewards instead of it being blind chance. That’s just me, though – plenty seem to disagree and your mileage may vary.

I don’t know how I’ve ended up watching Eastenders. I’m sure I wasn’t a regular viewer last summer, so it must have happened some time over the autumn. I know my sister started watching, which drew in Mum, and then we’d sometimes watch it while eating. I guess I must have been sucked into some storyline, and by then it was too late – it’s impossible to stop without missing the end of one story, by which time another has started…I have no willpower. However it happened, I am currently wondering when it was that the scriptwriters realised that during January and February:

  • they would have very few interesting characters remaining
  • they would have no storylines that didn’t border on the farcicial
  • that the entire show would be carried by a seventeen-year old (playing a fifteen-year-old) out-acting everybody else on the screen.

I’m guessing the latter was a revelation, since she’s been inserted into every storyline since the beginning of the year.

  1. it was a calm-before-the-storm day while I waited for replacement hardware to arrive, so I wasn’t entirely skiving off 🙂 []
  2. It seems like a variation of The Monty Hall Problem, but Wikipedia says it isn’t at all []