Entertainment TV Remote Roaming: a UK affair
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Remote Roaming: a UK affair

Alan Partridge
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We trawl the TV guide so you don’t have to

This week we are watching Mistresses, Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge and The Spin.

Mistresses : Seven, Mondays, 11.30pm

‘A drama about the scandalous lives of a group of four girlfriends, each on her own path to self-discovery as they brave the turbulent journey together.’

Fantastic! The strange, unsettling, very funny and frank comedy, Girls, is finally back on TV, but, that’s strange, it’s on at the unusual timeslot of 11.30pm on Seven! Oh wait … actually, no, this is Mistresses, a US remake of a British series, which always raises alarm bells.

In fact, the US Mistresses appears to be happily vacuous and empty, but otherwise kind of harmless. I watched last week’s episode without any preconceived ideas and assumed that it was a pisstake; a bit like those housewife shows, trying to kick things up a notch from Sex And The City. I still don’t know if that was the plan or it’s just unironically over-the-top bad acting and dodgy scripts.

These four girlfriends, led by Alyssa Milano (Warning! Warning!), are older and a lot less interesting than Lena Dunham’s crew. They give each other many meaningful looks and glances, and frown more often than can be considered healthy.

As far as I can tell, this series joins every dot you’d expect: somebody’s pregnant and naturally worries desperately about who the father might be, because there’s only 2/1 odds (at best) that it would be her husband, right?

Somebody else is worried that the cops will cotton onto the fact she assisted the suicide of a patient (the key storyline of the UK version). Everybody else is sleeping with everybody, stopping only to land corny lines like, ‘Sometimes having values is what brings you happiness’ and, every couple of minutes, ‘We have to talk about this!’

A happily hetero chick ‘turns’ when her gay friend joins her in the shower. That’s all it takes, apparently. Australia’s Brett Tucker shows he’s moved a long way from McLeod’s Daughters and Neighbours as Milano’s halo-bearing hubbie, although he’s laying the Australian accent on more than Steve Irwin in his prime.

Verdict: If you like brainless soap, then sure, what else would you be doing at 11.30pm? Sleeping?

Mid Morning Matters with Alan Partridge : ABC 2, Mondays, 8.15pm

Mid Morning Matters With Alan Partridge is showing on ABC 2 at 8.15pm (or 8.16 pm, or 8.17 pm, depending on the day). This is a strange development, for several reasons.

Firstly, Fosters paid for the show and ran it on a Foster’s beer website, before it made it onto commercial TV in the UK. How that reconciles with being on our national broadcaster, I have no idea.

Secondly, it was designed as a web series, and therefore runs for 15 or 16 minutes per episode, making it a challenge for programmers, who like 23-minute half-hours, right? Or even 30 commercial-free minutes in an ABC universe.

The show itself is the continuing evolution of the Partridge character, Steve Coogan’s cringeworthy media performer, now shown via a studio webcam on Radio Norwich Digital radio.

As hard to watch as ever, but really, this show was online in 2010 and has been out on DVD in Australia since 2012. If you’re a fan and you haven’t seen it yet, you need to take a moment. I mean, what do you expect? Coogan to knock on your door and personally remind you to watch it?

Verdict: Partridge in short bursts feels about right.

Hidden Gem

News

Flipping through the TV guide, I stumbled across a show on SBS called The Spin. It runs for, get this, two minutes. I kid you not: 7.28pm–7.30pm on Mondays. ‘All the latest Australian cycling news including events, riders and teams’ says the blurb. Obviously not much happening in cycling … I even rang SBS Publicity who had never heard of it, but confirmed Monday’s episode is the last time it will show up in 2013. So get on it. Cult classic waiting to happen.

You’ll find The Spin, whatever it is, sandwiched right between SBS’s excellent World News and Countdown to Catastrophe, this week looking at earthquakes and particularly the aftermath of Fukushima … But first, before the nuclear cloud descends, let’s go for a pedal. A really fast pedal.

Verdict: The hosts will need to speak quickly.

Movies

Well, next Saturday, on Foxtel, you have a choice between Walk The Line (Drama/Romance channel 224, 8.25am), Joaquin Phoenix and Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon’s stand-out biopic of singer Johnny Cash and his wife, June, or Garfield 2: A Tail of Two Kitties (Family channel 221, 12 noon), so you know, I feel your pain. Go whichever way your heart takes you, or maybe dodge them both for the quirky Safety Not Guaranteed, an engaging indie comedy based on an actual classified advert, with that chick out of Parks and Recreation. Yeah, the emo one. Her.

Verdict: Joaquin as Johnny wins.

Movies