DRAMA SERIES The X-Files Sky One, starts Wed 14 Feb, 9pm.
Icy scepticism and out-there theories
Returning for its eighth season, The X- Fi'les has undergone something of a transformation. FBI Agent Mulder (DaVid Duchovny) ~ Ieftfield custodian of the Bureau's most bizarre cases — has disappeared. His long-suffering partner, Scully (Gillian Anderson) believes that he has been abducted by the very aliens he devoted his life to finding. Well, after seven years of weird gomgs-on, it's about time she lost some of her trademark icy
sceptiosm. SCUlly, meanwhile, is pregnant; it was
DOCUMENTARY SERIES Boy Meets Girl Channel 4, starts Tue 6 Feb, 9pm.
At some pomt in yOur life, you’ve probably wondered how life would have worked out had you been born a member of the oppOSite sex. Ten indiViduals get that very chance to find out (sort of) for this three-part series. With expert help from transgender consultants, they learn to walk, talk and live as a very different being. But they’ve got to be convmcing if they want to last the course, as the programme Will gradually eliminate participants until only two men and two women remain.
If it were Just about looks, this might not make very interesting VieWing — some of the men have Jawlines so strong they’re never gomg to convmce as women — but what is captivating is the personalities they create for themselves. Before undergomg the transformation, the partiCipants are asked what kind of man or woman they think they'd make. Most of the
preVIously thOught that she was left unable to conceive, after her own abduction by the shadowy government (a storyline actually brOught abOut by Anderson's real-life pregnanCyi Joming her quest to find Mulder is new partner, Agent Doggett (Terminator 2’s Robert Patrick), a sceptical ex-cop (surprise, surprise), eager to refute SCUlly’s Out-there theories.
The new premise has largely been brought abOut by DaVId Duchovny's pursuit of a mowe career which, so far, has only produced the tepid rom-com Return To Me. He has shrewdly deCided not to completely burn his bridges, and will appear in around half of the twenty-part series. The Jump from TV to big-screen stardom is a tricky one, which the likes of Bruce Willis and George CIOOney have managed but do you remember what happened to NYPD Blue’s Davrd Caruso? No, neither do we.
So what can we put the The X-Fi/es' masswe success down to? Creator Chris Carter has maintained a huge global fanbase, mainly by alternating the show's imaginative monster-of—the- week episodes With an ongomg, epic stOry arc involvmg the colonisation of the Earth by a race of alien-human hybrid clones (or something).
What With Anderson already signed up for a ninth year, Mulder’s geeky conspiracy theorist buddies The Lone Gunmen getting their own show, and plans for at least one more mowe outing With Mulder and SCUIIy, it seems we can expect the JOY of X for the foreseeable future. (Scott Montgomery)
Boys Don't Cry meets Big Brother
women think they'd be like their ideal man — senSitive and caring — but the minute their fake moustaches and baseball caps go on, it all changes; they mostly act like an aggressive bunch of losers.
At the other end of the scale, the men are transformed into creatures of glamour. All choose skirts or dresses to wear and generally behave in a deeply sexual manner; particularly entertaining is the beer-bellied partICipant, transformed into a barfly blonde, With sorrowful tales of romance gone awry.
It’s these psychological and emotional changes that capture our imagination, although they go hand in hand With the physical changes; when the women shove pairs of socks down the front of their trousers they can’t help but sit differently, likewise the men walking in high heels. With the dramatic changes seen in Just one week, it’s intrigumg to see how they’ll be acting after three months in someone else's shoes. (LOUisa Pearson)
COMEDY SERIES Attention Scum BBCZ, starts Sun 18 Feb, ll.lSpm.
If television comedy needed some kind Of shake-up, then Attention SCt/m COuId have been a radical call to arms This six-part series 2s the on-screen Photostat of Simon Munnery's experimental stand-up show League Against Ted/um which he has paraded . at the last three Fr:nge festivals to 3 critical and cultisn acclaim vr) «- r"
In this peculiar kind of handmade Simon Munnery leads the Viewer ‘00 audio/Visual feast, OUT rake-like "059 to 99'“line tedium host/lecturer Munnery — who yOu may remember as Alan Parker Urban Warrior ~ proclaims his sooally-aware, comic philosOphies to a camera on the end of a stick in front of a computer-generated backdrop The whole set-up has a certain held- together-With-sticky-backed-plastic charm about it, but the material Within isn't always so compelling
Relentless in his pursuit of the perverse, Miinnery chucks opera singers, samples of The Clash and analogies about Neanderthal man into the mix in an attempt to propagate laughs. He strives to confront, antagonise and subvert preconceptions while simultaneously making sides split With one-liners drier than George Best's drinks cabinet.
However, it is the bumbling charm of Johnny Vegas as a bediaciciled, tinder- rested 24-hour news reporter, rather than the lead act's attempts at razor-sharp techno-political material that, frustratingly for Munnery, Wins through (Mark Robertson)
COMEDY/DRAMA SERIES Big Bad World Scottish, Fri, 10pm.
Teii years ago, comedy was proclaimed as the new rock ’n' roll No one ever bOught that notion, of course, but some of TV’s comic collectives have gone on to mirror their mUSical equwalents in a qurte uncanny way.
If The Mary Whitehouse Experience are Take That (Robert Newman is Robbie Williams to Steve Punt’s Mark Owen) then are the Spice Girls Men Behaving Badly? Well, one of them has married a footballer, an original member left to pursue solo success and one CXisting element recently reached number one.
So, what is the cast of Father Ted? Nirvana perhaps, whose energy was snuffed Out at its height leaVing the others to muddle on or give up. Which makes Ardal O'Hanlon the Dave Grohl of comedy, there have been moments of Whimsy but generally he’s spent too long thrashing around in a creative Wilderness
His latest solo proiect is a second series of Big Bad Wor/d, which sees O’Hanlon playing it straight as Eamonn, a lovelorn left Wing Journalist Who can’t seem to find Mrs O'Wright. His crazy upcoming adventures include him falling for a Tory actiwst in a Video shop and haVing a Thai Curry poured over his head after upsetting some friends. Which is undOubtedly hotter than the show (Brian Donaldson)
BBCl, starts Tue 6 Feb, 9pm.
A Chandleresque gent in a sharp suit and trilby, hard-bitten yet cool, continually smoking and drinking and havmg gorgeous blondes chuck'ng themselves at him all day While he goes ab0ut soIVing crimes With panache. If this is yOur Vision of a private investigator and you want to keep that image intact, don’t watch The Investigator.
Set in glamorous Manchester, this documentary series follows a number of privately-hired detectives about their daily business, revealing in the process that the JOb consists of 99% donkey work. EscheWing fast car chases and mysterious corpses, What we get instead is the likes of Craig Dixon, an ex-cop (as they all are, by the way), sitting in his car for hours waiting for an unsuspecting sick-leave fraudster to leave his house.
Elsewhere, we see various beer-bellied ex-rozzers chasing up insurance fraud, lost family members and adulterers, most of which involves sitting on yOur arse waiting, sifting through mountains of paper work or spending hours on the phone pestering people. IneVitably, this makes somewhat pedestrian teleVision, but there does lurk a basic voyeuristic thrill in waiting to see Just how each ne’er- do-well is gomg to ’get nailed', as the amiable Dixon keeps saying.
Ardal 0' Hanlon thrashes around in a creative wilderness
Chandler fans beware
‘i—IS Feb 2001 THE “ST 109