DOCUMENTARY Hillary's New York
Adventure BBCZ, Sat 4 Nov, 5.50pm.
mm» . -~ °°‘°" ' ' i
Hillary has the charisma this show lacks
The Clinton carnival is rolling again as Hillary completes the mammoth eighteen-month campaign for a seat in the New York State Senate. Following
5 her progress from earnest Republican
to slick Democrat, this documentary clumsily traces a what- Hillary-did-next path from her days at the posho Park Ridge school and WASPy territory of Wellesley college, thence onto Yale, before veering into ’woman behind the man’ territory as Bill's sexcapades engulf the narrative.
i Unfortunately, this is more Hellol-style 3 eulogising than hardened political
Because of its bitty structure, the documentary also inadvertently and sometimes hilariously reveals the misogynistic mistrust which greets an ambitious woman aiming for the White House. Everyone from current
political advisors, old school friends, snobbish East-coast alumni and Bill’s Southern-spite Arkansas buddies, all articulate the reputation for pushy arrogance that surrounded Hillary Rodham.
One of its stronger aspects is the Scorsese-like dissection of the made- for-TV weirdos who live in the Big Apple: a man exclaims 'She's a nice lady, I’m gonna vote for her', only to be interrupted by a woman dementedly yelling: 'Whaddya mean, she’s a nice lady? She’s a carpetbagger, get her outta here!’ etc.
But this is just icing riding upon an insubstantial programme. The footage comes mainly from archived material seen a thousand times before; an Oxfam-tastic Hillary during the early years to the steely-eyed defence of Bill during the Gennifer Flowers allegations, plus globally-syndicated shots of her open-floor routine with sassy New York kids. The sources-close- to-Hillary approach would have been great if they’d found more people willing to talk, and there is not a whisper from the First Lady herself.
Nonetheless, the very position of fear and loathing which she occupies belies her power and intelligence while her charisma is enough to keep you rooted to the screen. Sharp as a blade and groomed to within an inch of her life, she sails from one Q&A session to the next, proving that even given the variable factor of duff documentary- making, you can't keep a strong
DOCUMENTARY SERIES Poisoned Channel 4, starts Wed 8 Nov, 8.30pm.
What is it about human nature that we’re .forever fascinated by the more gruesome side of life? Poisoned taps into this morbid interest by examining the world of, well, poisons and the science of toxicology, and more specifically the work of The National Poisons Information Service.
Billed here as Britain’s least-known emergency service, this invaluable body receives hundreds of calls a day from doctors seeking urgent advice on how to treat poison victims in their care. Poisoned mixes mind-boggling statistics (did you know that 35,000 kids are taken to hospital each year suffering from
Entertaining, ghoulish and disturbing
g poisoning?) with explanatory sciency graphics and some harrowing case studies
to create a show which is both entertaining and, at times, disturbing.
The first episode deals with the seemingly less extreme subject of household cleaning materials and the effects they can have on anyone, particularly children, who come into contact with them. Just in case the message doesn’t hit home, we're presented with the story of poor little Billy. Having gulped down some
white spirit, we follow the horrendous consequences and the hysterical reaction f
of his parents as they anxiously wait to see if he'll pull through. Not nice.
i (Doug Johnstone)
i COMEDY SERIES
: earlier this year in Glasgow’s Mugdock
i one of the exotic locations used during the filming of Chewin’ The Fat’s third series. The last one established a
woman down. And who's this 'Bill' guy ;
BBCZ, starts Sat 4 Nov, 11.10pm.
Tom Sutcliffe wants to buck a trend. The critic and journalist aims to change the way we think about movies and get away from the dumbing down of film journalism. 'You see a lot of television on cinema that's about product or actors or genre,’ he says. ’What gets squeezed out is taking a step back and looking at things that are common to a whole range of films. And, to be honest, I wanted to get a bit of theory in there. It's like a Trojan horse, getting difficult ideas through the gates.’
The ideas for the six-part series, adapted from Sutcliffe’s own film theory book of the same name, are grouped into six broad themes: the beginnings of film, the magnified image, screens large and small, the
history of on-screen punching, the : exploitation of the unseen, and the ; frozen frame.
Sutcliffe’s take is thought-provoking yet digestible. Not that Watching was
1 all plain sailing. ’lt’s a maddening thing
Refusing to dumb down film journalism
making films about films,’ he says. ’lt's quite difficult to find the clips, and then getting clearance. We had one that was perfect for our argument, which had a television screen in the corner on which another film was playing. We had to get clearance for that film as well. Also, I hadn’t anticipated just how difficult it is to get directors to talk. If you coincide with a publicity tour, fine, but on a project like this, it’s a struggle.’ An indication that film journalism has increasingly become an exercise in film marketing.
Still, Sutcliffe's not done too badly; he shares the screen with luminaries as diverse as Terry Gilliam, Danny Boyle, Jean-Jacques Beneix and John Carpenter, among many illustrious others. And they all vie for screen time with Citizen Kane, Videodrome, Raging Bull and Jules Et Jim to name a few classics.
The intriguing theme of endings, though, didn’t make it. ’Really good films don’t end,’ concludes Sutcliffe. 'I like the ending of Memento; no one can agree what happened.’
? monologue’ approach looks more like
Chewin' The Fat BBCl, starts Wed 15 Nov, 10.35pm.
If you were out walking the dog
Park, you might have come across some familiar characters, as it's just
number of characters in the nation's psyche, from the irate lighthouse keeper's 'gonnae no” to the inspired news sketches with interpretation for neds.
‘lt's only comedy. for fuck's sake‘
Ford Kiernan (the less tall half of the core writing and performing duo which ‘ also features Greg Hemphill) explains their reaction to the show's popularity: ’We ? were chuffed to get on TV in the first place and the amount of feedback blew us away.’ So as not to disappoint their audience, the team will be retaining their
most popular characters. 'Our favourites are the old men. We love playing them because there’s an enormous amount of scope for ad-libbing.’
But with other writers contributing 25% of the material, we can expect a few 2 surprises. Kiernan’s feeling quietly confident, having filled the King’s Theatre ; earlier in the year with the show’s live version, but doesn’t harbour illusions of ‘
greatness. ’We're certainly not sending out any high-powered messages; it's only comedy, for fuck’s sake.’ (Louisa Pearson)
DRAMA SERIES Telling Tales BBCZ, starts Sat 4 Nov, 8.55pm.
Who’d have thought there would be room in the BBC’s action-packed autumn schedule for dear old Alan Bennett? Amongst the rapid-fire images and pithy soundbites of most recent telly drama, Bennett’s stripped- down 'just me and my mournful
a sure-fire radio hit. Personally, I’d pay for the privilege of listening to Bennett talk dejectedly about the inside of a
'l have a capacity not to enjoy myself' .
Ping-Pong ball; he’s the kind of rich, luminous writer who COuld, frankly, cough
up what passes for TV drama these days.
Telling Tales continues in the style of adult-themed Jackanory, pioneered by 3
Bennett in Talking Heads. Where that classic series saw Bennett applying his waspish wit to the minutiae of everyday lives and the little tragedies he witnessed in those around him, this latest string of ten fifteen-minute monologues is a personal account of what the author refers to as his ’drab’ childhood memories. ’I noticed even at the age of ten, that I had a fully developed capacity not to enjoy
I myself,’ he says. ’A capacity l’ve retained ever since.’ Wrny funny and moving, though never sentimental, Telling Tales provides a poignant insight into working-class family life during the war as well as a unique
portrait of this most compassionate observer of human behaviour. (Allan Radcliffe) -
2— l 6 Nov 2000 THE “ST 117