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Spring TV Highlights

06/05/2011

It’s been a quiet couple of weeks at Andygeddon HQ. Some unseasonally clement weather has kept me outdoors and away from my intensive viewing and subsequent reviewing schedule, a fact for which I unreservedly apologise. The thing about living in the Scottish Highlands is sunshine is a rare delight and one which has to be taken full advantage of when you get it. It’s a bit rainy now though, so back to the business in hand. After a relatively barren spell with little or nothing of interest on the telly, I am pleased to say that there is a glut of new programmes under way that have caught my attention. Here (in no particular order) is a little rundown of the stuff currently clogging up my Sky+ planner:

ARCHER

The second series of this animated comedy has just started on 5* (Tuesdays, 10:00pm). Essentially a parody of James Bond, Sterling Archer is a womanising, hard drinking, ultra arrogant secret agent with a private espionage firm called Isis. Joined by a motley crew of colleagues, he gets up to all sorts of secret agent high jinks with genuinely hilarious results. Well observed office politics and human relationships add a bit of depth. The first series has just come out on DVD in the UK and I would recommend getting your eyes round that first as there are several running gags that build over the series. Animated in a style reminiscent of those bold, marker pen style Grand Theft Auto loading screens it’s a lot of fun and I highly recommend it.

GAME OF THRONES

I’ve finally popped my Sky Atlantic cherry (you can catch it on Mondays at 9.00pm) with this pseudo-medieval fantasy epic based on the book of the same name. Sean Bean stars as the King’s best mate in a story that promises machiavellian scheming, political intrigue, bawdy sex, incest and bags of hack’n’slash violence. I’m three episodes in so far and defintiely hooked. Despite early indications of non-human unpleasantness to come, it is thus far quite a restrained take on the fantasy genre dealing with rather human concerns. Great casting coupled with what is shaping up to be an intriguing and exciting story and excellent production values for a genre TV show (thanks HBO!) are making for pretty essential viewing. Hopefully the rest of the series will deliver on this early set up.

PSYCHOVILLE 2

Post League Of Gentlemen there was a gaping void on TV which had been previously occupied by its brand of comedy as sinister as it was surreal. While the Mighty Boosh went some way to fill it, it never quite reached the same heights and certainly not with the same class. It seemed only natural then that former Gentlemen Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton should come back with Psychoville. Difficult to summarise, the first series followed a group of seemingly disparate characters who ended up being united by the actions of a mysterious blackmailer. The new series has just started on BBC 2 (Thursdays, 10.00pm) and would appear to be a continuation of the story that was left on something of a cliffhanger at the end of the last series. If you were a fan of The League Of Gentlemen you cannot fail to enjoy this, off the wall humour combining with the creepy and downright bizarre. The end result is of Lynchian proportions. You can catch up if you missed this weeks episode on iPlayer, if you haven’t seen the first series I would recommend catching it on DVD first as you kind of need to know the story so far to get the most out of this one.

CAMPUS

I’m still not sure what to make of this University set sitcom (Tuesdays, 10.00pm, Channel 4)from the makers of Green Wing. Hugely irreverant and following a similar structure to Green Wing it is undoubtedly funny but slightly inconsistent and occasionally feels derivative (apart from Green Wing, there is an obvious Office influence) even when it probably isn’t. That said, I’ve watched every episode so far and will most likely continue to do so. The highlight has to be the deranged Vice Chancellor Jonty De Wolfe (Andy Nyman) although again, he is reminiscent of Matt Berry’s Douglas Reynholm from the IT Crowd. Just much more sinister. It’s definitely above average but falls comfortably short of genius.

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