Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Hoff taking flak for missing talent?

David Hasselhoff's feet have hardly had time to touch UK soil before the rumours about his possible Britain's Got Talent axe have started. But The Hoff is far from the main problem with the new BGT episodes, it is the astounding lack of real talent that is most damaging.

In recent years BGT has sky-rocketed under the normally safe guidance of Simon Cowell but Cowell has taken a back seat this year (though he he will return for the live shows), and the show is suffering.

Ratings are falling, with the last episode being watched by 8.99 million viewers which is the lowest for the BGT auditions since 2007 and down on the opening episode audience of 11.6 million.

Whilst Hassellhoff has not instantly fitted into the high-waisted trousers of Cowell (alongside comedian Michael McIntyre and regular judge Amanda Holden) and the new judging panel lacks the 'bad guy' persona, it is the lack of any truly memorable or original acts which has made the show tedious and boring.

Even the gimmicky acts have drawn a deadly silence around the TV in my house.

Whilst a man singing nursery rhymes to pop songs or an adorable dog howling to opera is ok for the first two minutes, beyond the audition stage there will probably be little surprise or entertainment to it and I can't see the Queen finding comfort in the future talent of the country watching either of those acts.

12-year-old Ronan Park is a good singer and made me look up and pay attention for the first and only time so far this series but despite his obvious talent, a child singer is not the fantastically original or different act that BGT often plucks from obscurity.

Whilst Hassellhoff's job looks safe for now, lets hope for his and the viewers sake that better talent appears on the stage before I lose all interest in the series and The Hoff loses his job.

Are you enjoying the new series of BGT?

Picture from Unreality TV

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Tim crowned winner of Masterchef 2011

Eccentric American Tim Anderson was crowned Masterchef 2011 Champion last night, beating Englishman Tom Whitaker and Italian Sara Danesin in the final.

After travelling round the world for challenges, the final three made it back to Masterchef HQ to cook their final and hopefully best three-course meal for judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

And it was Tim's, the youngest ever winner at 26, meal of a selection of burgers, Pork Ramen with Truffled Lobster and three classic English desserts with a twist that won him the crown. In truth I couldn't understand half of the ingredients or food prepared by the finalists but the fact that John and Gregg sat their with almost speechless delight, you knew it was good!

In truth runners-up Tom and Sara could both count themselves unlucky that they decided to enter this year, both would have probably stormed to victory in previous series. Sara's chocolate ravioli starter last night in particular looked heavenly.

But it was Tim's spark of genius, often bordering on the weird, that gave him the edge. Often at times looking more like a scientist than a chef (a gastro-scientist as they say), with liquid nitrogen steaming up his glasses, Tim has thought up and cooked some mind-boggling creations.

This year's series of Masterchef has been a huge success, probably the best series and three finalists since the show started again back in 2005. This year's 11-week run has averaged 5.2million viewers.

But whilst last night's absorbing final was a roaring success both for its cooking and as a TV show, the need for (sorry for the obvious pun coming up) Masterchef to over cook the main course has put a slight blemish on this year's series.

Why did we need three straight nights of Masterchef? The challenges, travelling round the world, were entertaining but they didn't tell us anything new about the contestants. We all know they can cook, overcoming being out of their comfort zone or under pressure.

Thanks to Sky+ I ignored most of Monday's and Tuesday's episode until we got to the real final last night. The contestants may have felt exhausted after going round the world but I felt exhausted enough just watching from the comfort of my sofa. Three hours was just way too much.

But once we got there, the mouth-watering finale was well worth the watch. Tim deserved to win purely for thinking up some of those amazingly crazy dishes, let alone cooking them perfectly. I will now go and spend the next year dreaming of chocolate ravioli, waiting for next year's series to start.

Do you think Tim deserved to win? Did you think three nights for the final was too much?

Picture from AOL news

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Doctor Who, The Impossible Astronaut Review

I had fallen out of love with Doctor Who. There I said it.

The Christmas special stays on my Sky+ unwatched, simply recorded. The mountain of trailers and promotional pictures released in recent weeks have only drawn a whimper of excitement in my house. Yet after watching the series opener last night, I am hooked again.

The wibbly-wobbly nature of time that gives the writers of Doctor Who so much creative license once again was the backbone of the story, with River Song, Amy and Rory witnessing the death of the future Doctor at the hands of a water-loving astronaut.

The Doctor's death was certainly shocking but the outcome somewhat obvious, they couldn't kill off the title character in the series opener!

The present day Doctor made his humurous Matt Smith-like return in Utah and the rest of the episode was centred on the companions' inability to tell real-time Doc the truth about what will happen to him.

The mystery element to the episode which focused on finding a creepy child who keeps calling President Nixon in 1960s America took a backseat to the character-driven turmoil.

Amy was unable to tell her beloved Doctor the truth about his death and then revealed to him she was pregnant whilst River reflected on how her and the Doctor's paths will cross in the future.

We were also introduced to the Doctor's scary new foe, The Silence. One of the main issues I have head with Doctor Who of late is the lack of seriously scary enemies, not since the weeping angels back in 2007 have I felt slightly nervy on a Saturday evening.

And whilst they over-sized hands may have been a bit silly, The Silence's rather scary looking heads and ability to pop up unexpectedly in the corner of my screen make for exciting new villains for the weeks to come.

The episode definitely raised many confusing questions but this is how Doctor Who should be and yesterday's excellent opener and a teasing trailer for what has to come makes me desperate to know the answers.

Did you enjoy last night's Doctor Who?

Picture from doctorwhotv.co.uk

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sympathy for the devil?

EastEnders is often at its best when its at its most dark and depressing and last monday's episode, where Ronnie finally handed baby Tommy back to a very confused Kat, was one of the best episodes in a long time for that reason. But why did I end up feeling more sorry for villian Ronnie than anyone else?

EastEnders' Ronnie Branning (Samantha Womack) has been on a slow downward spiral since long-lost daughter Danielle (Lauren Crace) was flung over the bonnet of Janine Malloy (Charlie Brooks) car over two years ago (two years and 16 days to be exact as Ronnie was), culminating in Ronnie stealing Kat Moon's (Jessie Wallace) baby Tommy on new years eve.

But instead of the happiness and relief for Kat and Alfie or the devastation for Ronnie's husband Jack (Scott Maslen), it was the heartbreaking scenes with Ronnie and the doctor that really made the episode. Was it just good acting and writing or a miss direction on the part of the EastEnders that Ronnie didn't come across as the ultimate villian for what was a terrible crime?

The acting of Sam Womack as Ronnie, especially in the conversation with the doctor, was outstanding and I am sure was part of the reason that I felt just sorrow for the character. The almost empty and lost stares of a character who has been through more than her fair share of heartbreak (even for soapland) were haunting.

But at the same time it felt almost wrong to feel sorry for a character who snatched someone else's baby and let them think their own baby had died for months. Throughout the episode Ronnie rarely came across as evil, just very unstable and in need of help. It almost felt like the emotion of anger was missing slightly for me as a viewer at home and from the characters themselves in the show. But as the storyline looks set to continue and with Ronnie in the soap a while longer, hopefully this will be explored further.

Personally I throughly enjoyed the episode for the emotion and drama in the aftermath of such a controversial storyline and whilst it was odd to feel sympathetic for such horrible crimes, that shouldn't take away from the fantastic acting and writing.

Who did you feel most sorry for? Did you enjoy the aftermath of the baby-swap storyline?

Picture from metro.co.uk

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Is the EastEnders controversy correct?

Sam Womack quitting, over 8,000 complaints and the story being cut short. But is all the controversy over EastEnders baby swap storyline correct?

EastEnders is known for its hard-hitting storylines but its most recent attempt to portray a sensitive issue has backfired considerably on the show with a media storm gathering over EastEnders. After finding her baby James dead in his coat, a devastated Ronnie swapped James' body for that of Kat and Alfie's alive son Tommy.

As a viewer who has witnessed a year of murders, stabbings, fires, drug use and tram crashes in the world of soap I must admit I am slightly torn on the plot.

The main ingredient to any soap storyline is emotion, drama and with EastEnders more often that not tragedy. And undoubtedly the baby swap plot has all these elements. But my criticism of the plot is that they could have achieved the same level of emotion and drama by only tackling the tragedy of cot deaths.

By adding the baby swap twist on a already upsetting storyline the show has dragged themselves into claims of sensationalism, despite Executive Producer Bryan Kirkwood's claims on the EastEnders website that their aim "was – and still is – to tell a strong story that would, in the telling - raise the profile of Cot Death in the UK."

But whilst I understand the viewers upset over such a powerful subject, this is and always has been a work of fiction. Soaps have never shied away from tackling tough subjects before and every viewer always has the choice to watch soaps or turn off their television.

The decision to cut the story short is completely correct as any plans to drag the story on would then become 100 % unbelievable. The news that there is also going to be a happy ending is also correct in sending the right message to viewers that are prepared to stick with the story.

With the outcry caused by the plot the acting of all involved has often been forgotten. Sam Womack (Ronnie) and Jessie Wallace (Kat) have been superb whilst the supporting cast of Shane Ritchie (Alfie), Derek Martin (Charlie) etc.. have made the storyline even more heartbreaking. Whilst the writing and producing have been heavily criticised, Kat saying 'I am not ready to say goodbye, I have only just said hello' or Ronnie begging baby James 'please don't do this to me' are haunting to watch.

The departure of Ronnie, whether due to the end of Sam's contract or her decision based on the plot is a huge loss to EastEnders (the announcement is either a case of a bad coincidence or bad timing).

I don't 100% agree with the direction of the plot but it has me torn and this is often the best ingredient for the most powerful storylines. But the anger directed at EastEnders looks like it won't be calming down anytime soon and with the plot set to run until the spring, the show looks like it will be hitting the headlines for months to come however well acted the storyline is.

Picture from whatsontv.co.uk

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Kara dances her way to victory in Strictly finale

With the cold weather setting in again outside, there was nothing better than a Saturday night of Strictly Come Dancing. Oh and it was the glitzy finale as well!

Actress Kara Tointon, presenter Matt Baker and Psychologist Pamela Stephenson all battled it out for the crown but it was ex-Eastender Tointon who triumphed after completing four stunning dances (whilst having just enough energy to lift the glitterball trophy at the end).

In Tointon, the British public chose the right winner (proving how letting just the public decide the winner can be successful, ahem... no hint to other shows needed!). With near professional dance skills and a lovely relationship with pro partner Artem Chigvintsev, Tointon rightly stormed to victory, beating Baker into second place and Stephenson in third.

This year's series has been a raging success after last year's let-down. A snappier format, better mix of celebrities and some inspired partnerships (Ann and Anton looked like they were made to dance together or at least grace the comedy circuits as a superb double-act) have seen Strictly once again hit top-form.

And whilst last night's glamorous finale was a fitting ending, it did disappoint on one count - the showdances. A freestyle masterpiece where anything goes. But unfortunately none of last night's three showdances really dazzled and amazed in equal measure.

Matt Baker was let down by his partner Aliona Vilani reliance on his tricks and flicks and not his dancing whilst Artem and Kara's ridiculously fast routine caught out Tointon a few too many times. Pamela and partner James Jordan's effort lacked any 'show' whilst still being a good dance.

But in the end there was enough sublime dancing on show to glaze over that disappointment. Kara and Artem lifted the glitterball trophy to confirm themselves as one of Strictly's best ever couples and confirm the show's sparkling return to form.

Picture from What's on TV

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

EastEnders' Janine back to her best

Soapland's biggest bitch has gone a bit soft recently...

Since falling in love and getting married, EastEnders' Janine Malloy (formerly Butcher) has shown her softer side. And whilst I love to see different layers to soap characters, when it comes to Janine - the bitchier the better!

After stealing hubby Ryan (Neil McDermott) and Stacey's (Lacey Turner) daughter Lily and nearly getting her run-over by a train, The Sun reports that Janine (Charlie Brooks) will attempt to poison Ryan at Christmas. And who could doubt the wicked plot, Janine did 'accidentally' push first husband Barry Evans off a cliff!

Soap's baddest girl is a brilliant character. Janine's softer side has always been teased to viewers but in the end evil always seems to win out when it comes to Janine.

And it seems the superbitch has only just started when it comes to punishing new hubby Ryan.

Picture from bbc.co.uk