V TV REVIEW
Human existence knows few sadder utterances than Sunday evenings ‘Hey Last Of The Summer Wine is on at seven, and after that it’s Lovejoy!’ Never to be outdone, Channel 4 has devised late licence and the nation now resounds to pathetic bleats of, ‘Hey, let’s stay up and watch repeats of youth TV!’
‘It was pertinent that the ilrst ad break opened with a commercial for a phone-line
telling you how to make some friends. Astute targeting.’
Late night/early morning TV is like an interminable bad episode of Quantum Leap; you’re in every time period except the present. Imported American pop shows are always two or three months out of kilter, films are Swinging 60$ screwball comedies, and Late Licence is almost entirely Estuary English presenters hosting last year’s editions of Saturday Zoo, Naked City and their spotty 90-second culture ilk. Great at the time perhaps, but not-so- pretty when warmed over for the post pub insomniac crowd.
Herman's llead (Channel 4) is new, despite the fact that its fast-food comic ingredients have been thawed out from a late 60s ice-box. Herman’s is an innocent world where women are either leggy blonde ball-breakers or plump, plain secretaries, where your best mate is a philandering man of the world, and where everybody talks about their dates. Give it a few years and it just might mature into the Dick Van Dyke Show, but don’t count on it.
Herman’s gimmick is that every ﬁve seconds or so we ﬂash to the inside of his head where various aspects of his ‘personality’. intellect, sensitivity, anxiety and lust battle for control of their man. Lust is played by a rampaging John Belushi clone whom you kind of warm to, but essentially the idea is a rip-oﬁ' of the wonderful Numbskulls cartoon, without the character development. lts producer is called Karl Fink, which is of no consequence but what the hell.
A swift ﬂip of the remote and you can travel back another twenty years to the dawn of the chat-show era with The M Setter Show (Scottish) a Grampian production that hits the screen around
I 2am. Mind you, with guests as dangerous as Michael Fish, Rose 1 Marie, Les Dennis and Adam Faith, it’s i hardly surprising the schedulers are playing safe. There are probably iTC guidelines to prevent children from being exposed to this much blandness in one sitting. It was pertinent that the ﬁrst ad break opened with a commercial for a phone-line telling you how to make some friends. Astute targeting.
Sutter, with the crinkly hair and minute eyes, has a great face for radio, which is a shame as Radio Scotland have just got rid of him. His interviewing technique consists of mumbling ‘extraordinary’ as his guests . utter another aged platitude. Adam Faith regaled us with a mercifully bn'ef snatch of ‘Stuck In The Middle With You’. You may recall that song as Mr Blonde’s chosen soundtrack for lopping off his captive’s ear in Reservoir Dogs. lfthey'd been playing Faith’s version. you’d have begged him to do the other ear and quick.
Homicide (Channel 4) is shaping up as the best tragi-comedy since the last series of Only Fools And Horses. The last episode featured about two per cent police-work to ninety per cent banter (the rest is coffee). But oh, what banter. Personal grooming advice for divorced men: ‘Do what I do. Give all your dirty shirts to a thrift shop. They wash and iron them and put them out on show. You go in and buy them back the next day at $2 a pop. What are you paying at the laundry — six bucks minimum. Am I right?‘ You are. you are.
‘Sutter, with the crinkly hair and minute eyes, has a great face for radio, which is a shame as Radio Scotland have just got rid of him.’
The toughest felon the guys had to deal with this time around was a disenchanted Santa Claus running amok with a water pistol. ‘I know how you feel,’ sighed the wonderfully- named Detective Munch. ‘December 24 you’re the most popular human being in the world, December 26 you’re just another fat guy in a bad suit.’ (Tom Lappin)
A selection oi television highlights, listed by day, in chronological order. Television listings compiled by Tom
I The Vlartime Kitchen And Garden (BBC2) 8.30—9pm. Gardener Harry Dodson and cook Ruth Mott combine their talents to look at how Britain fed itself during World War II, featuring the secret of ‘mock banana’.
I All Or Nothing At All (Scottish) 9-lOpm. Guy Andrews. who wrote The Owner has come up with a darker drama with a similar theme. Hugh Laurie plays Leo Hopkins, a happily married man whose philanthropic tendencies induce him to gamble everything he has. Look out for Bob Monkhouse in a rare serious role.
I Cheers (Channel 4) 9.30—l0pm. Frasier proposes to Diane. but before answering she dashes to the phone to call Sam.
I Have I Got News For You (BBC2) lO—lO.30pm. Angus Deayton. Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are joined by guests Nigel Lawson and Kathy Burke.
I Dr Terror’s Vault 0i ilorror: Countess Dracula/Voodoo Woman (BBC I) ll.05pm—l.55am. A late-night double bill with a feminine twist. lngrid Pitt stars as the widow with a thirst for the blood that has the power of rejuvenating her. followed by a spectacularly daft tale of a mad scientist determined to turn beautiful island babes into monsters.
I The Word (Channel 4)
l l.lOpm—12.lOam. Terry Christian. Dani Behr and Mark Lamarr introduce more salacious showbiz chat and music.
I late licence (Channel 4)
12.10—5. lOam. Jo Brand and Julian Clary are your hosts for a trawl through the early hours, with repeat showings of Ready Steady Go. Naked C ity and Red Hot And Blue. not to mention the classic ‘lron Chicken’ episode of The Clangers.
I The Great Depression (BBC2)
7. 15—8. 10pm. The 30s documentary series looks at the increasing violence in rural and urban areas as inequalities became ever more pernicious.
I Casualty (BBC 1) 8. l0—9pm. The Holby team cope with a distraught mother, a teacher with suspicious injuries. and a possible outbreak of dysentery. All in a night’s work.
I Performance: The Entertainer (BBC2) 8.10—9.40pm. Michael Gambon stars as John Osborne’s Archie Rice. a vaudeville comedian in a run-down seaside town. receiving an unexpected visit from his daughter, and bad news about his son. The supporting cast includes Billie Whitelaw as Archie’s wife and Bill Owen as his father.
I ilarry (BBCl) 9-9.50pm. Michael Elphick plays the middle-aged journalist. sniffing a chance of getting back to Fleet Street when he hears a rumour that the local MP is having an affair with the Foreign Secretary. Before long he's on the plane to Spain hoping for some revealing pictures.
I The Rookie (Scottish) 9.30—1 l.40pm. Clint Eastwood directs, and stars with Charlie Sheen and Raul Julia in an action thriller about a veteran officer forced to break in a new partner, and getting himselfkidnapped in the process.
I The Producers (Channel 4) 10.45pm—12. 15am. Mel Brooks's classic bad taste comedy stars Zero Mostel as the Broadway producer desperate for a fortune-making flop. Springtime For
Hitler looks like a sure-fire loser, but
is it . . ?
I Out There: Suitcase - Exempt From Classification (Scottish)
l 1.40pm-12.15am. Allan Campbell interviews maverick music business Machiavelli Alan Home of Postcard Records in a formal Waldenesque style. while Paul Quinn And The Independent Group provide the sounds. in what promises to be an intriguing mix of provocation, surrealism and cool cooi music. Stay alert for a surprise ending. I late licence (Channel 4) 12.50—5.20am. Another selection of insomniac fodder, including Eumtrash.
Saturday Zoo and the weird Hemtan's
I Moviewatch (Channel 4) 6—6.30pm. Johnny Vaughan hosts the ﬁlm review show from Aberdeen. where punters offer verdicts on Addams Family Values. American Heart and Baum] And Gagged.
I Equinox: Video Games (Channel 4) 7—8pm. A look at some of the more complex developments in the world of computer games. including SimCitv where the player is able to build a city and run it. I Sportscene Review (it 1993 (BBCI) 7.40—8.50pm. Dougie Donnelly hosts the annual sporting shindig. Graeme Obree. Stephen Hendry. Colin Montgomerie and Gavin Hastings are among the leading contenders for Sportscene Personality Of The Year.
I To Play The King (BBC 1) 9.05—lOpm.
plan Richardson continues to scheme
campin as Francis Urquhart PM. locking horns in all-out battle with the woolly liberal King (Michael Kitchen).
I Spitting Image (Scottish) lO—lO.30pm. Another collection of limp puppet satirical sketches.
I Shane (BBC2) lOpm-midnight. Alan Ladd stars in the classic Western. playing the usual mysterious black-clad stranger riding out of the desert to help decent folk in their time of need. and riding back over the horizon when the shootin’s done.
I Made In The USA: Stand By Me (Channel 4) 10—1 1.40pm. The late River Phoenix stars in Rob Reiner’s semi- autobiographical tale of four young boys trekking through the woods in search of the body of a dead teenager.
I The South Bank Show (Scottish) 10.45—1 1.45pm. John Lloyd concludes his report on British comedy. with contributions from Lenny Henry. Jim Davidson. Rik Mayall. Alexei Sayle. Harry Enﬁeld and Roy ‘Chubby‘ Brown.
I A Woman’s Guide To Adultery (Scottish) 9—lOpm. The second part of the Carol Clewlow adaptation, with Theresa Russell. Sean Bean. Amanda Donohoe and Adrian Dunbar.
I Homicide: lite On The Street (Channel 4) 10—! lpm. The realistic Baltimore police series continues with still no conviction in the Adena Watson murder case, and Bayliss (Kyle Secor) coming under increased pressure.
I Inside Victor lewis-Smith (BBC2) lO—lO.30pm. Bad taste comedy with BBC2's other Vic, featuring the usual archive playfulness and dubious taste satire-
52 The List 3-16 December l993