Spaced Channel 4, starts Fri 23 Feb, 9.30pm.
Half-hour chunks of frenetic fun
For some. the frrst series of Spaced was patched-together student revue of the ugliest krnd. To others, thrs hyperactive e-generatron Just Good Friends was a tornado of fresh arr rnto a stagnatrng telly form. Those left rn the middle ground w0uld surely agree that Jessica Stevenson and Srmon Pegg had pulled the ’h’ Out of sitcom, whrle (Onrurrng up a set of characters rooted rn stereotype but Just about able to twrst themselves out of stock situations thanks to rnCrsrve and pop culturally- consCrous wrrtrng.
When Louis Met Paul And Debbie
BBCZ, Tue 20 Feb, 9pm.
Who would have thought a has-been magrcran would make mincemeat out of the BBC's geekesgue golden boy? Lows Theroux has staged a one-man Revolution Of The Nerds, explortrng ordinary people’s lust for exposure and uncovering some touching moments of warmth, sadness and clinical psychosis along the way.
The ermy Savrle rntervrew was strangely mesmerrsrng because the protagonrst was weird but warm, eccentric but lonely, However, there‘s nothing more to thrs documentary than the portrart of a happy marrrage. The two stars control the proceedings from first to last, the sprightly Debbre McGee wrth an upfront dog-trainer’s tone: 'No, you can't film in there. You’re a cheeky lrttle monkey’, and the gnome-like, muttering Paul Daniels wrth a serres of cold insults: 'What’s
' 4 L
And now they have been given that crucial second serres, the make-0r- break moment grabbed by the likes of Father Ted and The League Of Gentlemen but not even reached by Hippies and The Wr/sons Should you have failed to catch any of series one, StevensOn and Pegg play Daisy Sterner and Trm Brsley, a pair of post-graduate slackers thrown together with the common arm of garnrng luxurious, cheap accommodation. By lying about their ’relatronshrp’, they succeed, but take on a motley bunch of nerghb0urs (dypso ex-hrppy, tortured artrst, frustrated former TA warrior, teenager from hell, that krnd of thing),
Throw in gurrky and plentiful references to horror films, classic cartoons and vrdeo games, and you have half-hour chunks of frenetic fun. For series two, Stevenson and Pegg have retained the sprrrt and speed of the first and added some guest appearances from Mark Gatrss (The League Of Gentlemen), Kevrn Eldon (Jam), Brll Barley and John Srmm, all of whom actually deflect attentron from the qualrty of wrrtrng and the performances by the leadrng duo.
Watchrng Stevenson and Pegg rn actron, you can be sure that they have as much fun together off set as they do on screen. But wrll they get a thrrd series? Cutting out the celeb cameos and upprng the emphasrs on the potentral evrls of thrs resrdency mrght Just do rt. (Brran Donaldson)
A catalogue of ultra-civilised brush-offs
that?’ asks Lours, standrng next to a lamp in the couple’s lush Henley house. ’lt’s a standard lamp,’ says Paul. 'What’s this?’ says Lours, looking at an illustration rn an old book. ’lt’s a book plate,’ replres Paul.
OstenSrbly chartrng the launch of Debbre McGee’s dance company, Ballet Imaginarre, the documentary becomes a catalogue of ultra-crvrlrsed brush-offs rn which Theroux manages to make himself look creepy and desperate. As he attempts to pal up to Paul durrng rehearsals for Debbie’s show, he rs told qurte clearly that ’you’re a very nice man, but you’re rnterferrng’.
Debbre, by far the more rntellrgent and charmrng of the pair, qualifies thrs wrth the caveat that: ’We were nervous when you started frlmrng because we thought that we may not be your sort of people’, and she rs absolutely right. It’s she and Paul who are normal, secure and successful. Theroux, on the other hand, seems slowly to be morphrng rnto Jimmy Savile. (Brdrsha)
COMEDY DRAMA Hotel .. Channel 5, Sun 19 Feb, 9pm.
So, yOu've been waiting for ages to see that hrlarrous actron spoof whrch merged the frnest brts of Dre Hard and Crossroads, right? Well, erng, actually. Fear a lot, as Channel 5 has rgnored those pleas to brrng you Hotel, the krnd of star-studded extravaganza that has huge drsaster wrrtten all over rt wrth the stench of celebs’ fear oozrng from your telly as their career highlights begin to fade.
As Lysette Anthony (leathered-up spy Amanda Brown) puts rt so adrortly, ’you have to take a flying leap and say goodbye to self-drgnrty’. The ’plot’ revolves around the krdnapprng of the US President by an rnternatronal terrorrst organisation in the quarnt envrrons of an English country hotel. An ex-commando rs called rn to save the day and the ’tensron’ rrses at the same frantrc rate as the ’gags’ flow.
Among some other unusual suspects are Lee Marors playrng the president r’l're only doing thrs because they couldn’t afford Leslre Nrelsen'), Paul McGann as an action hero, whrle Art Malrk rs a crazed Serbran warlord, Keeley Hawes and Peter Capaldr are in there too. Offsettrng all that talent are Brrtrsh light entertainment dullards Brran Conley and Bradley Walsh. Good luck. (Brran Donaldson)
DRAMA SERIES Best Of Both Worlds BBCI, starts Sun 18 Feb, 9pm.
Arr hostess Diane rs happrly married to charmrng chef Martin. Now, if thrs was the real world he’d be releasing a glossy photo-heavy hardback and wrrtrng for The Sunday Times, and she’d be petrrfred about the risk of osteothrombosis. However, as thrs is primetrme BBC drama, he’s worried about breaking even and she has enough leg-room to start an affarr wrth svelte Scottish-Italian archrtect Mark.
Once she’s started, she frnds it hard to stop, and before long rs married to two men, learning Italian, pretending to mortgage her parents' house, and tellrng Mark that her son Jack is actually a colleague’s ChlId. Naturally, thrngs go horrrbly wrong, but Diane is too involved With both men to leave either behrnd.
Starring Alice 102 Dalmatians Evans as deceptive Drane, Cal Macanrnch as the roped-in Mark and James Cosmo as his demanding dad, thrs slow-burnrng tale burlds the dramatrc irony to breakrng pornt. Writer Paul Cracker Abbott choreographs the tragedy wrth aircraft runways and oversees a soundtrack akin to Simon and Garfunkel dorng ’Scarborough Fair’ gurtars.
Beautifully filmed, and thankfully avordrng too many forays rnto OIIvro country,
Best Of Both Worlds rs a courageous and addrctrve drama wrth a painful twrst rn its flight path. (James Smart) MUSIC SERIES Lo-fi Channel 4, starts Thu 22 Feb, midnight. Musrc vrdeos have come a long way Since Queen stuck a couple of wobbly filters over the camera lens and asked, ’Shall we do the fandango?’ on 'Bohemran Rhapsody’. These days, in the mainstream charts at least, the video rs a vital promotional tool for any artist, and if MTV doesn’t like what you’ve put together, that’s an audience of about a hundred million scuppered. But even in thrs day and age where vrdeos not only have to be expensive they have to look expensive too, rt's refreshing to know that vrdeo makers are strll capable of producing fascinating work on a tight budget.
This short series, made by Glasgow-based Blackwatch Productions which brought us the excellent errorba/l, gave eighteen directors £500 each to go off and make whatever krnd of vrdeo they fancred. While there rs obvrously less polished semi- clad booty or choreographed dancers on show, there rs an rmpressrve diversity of ideas and execution, from the amusmgly absurd work of Yannakrs Jones for The Pixies to the seriously avant garde headfuck of Alexander Rutterford’s Autechre video, and product from Scottish directors Dougal Wilson and Hamish & Dan.
Interesting, challenging but still entertaining, Lo-fr' rs a calling card from a much under-rated art form. (Doug Johnstone)
Lysette Anthony checks in and rides out
. i. Alice Evans fails to turn the other cheek in this courageous, addictive drama
A calling card from an under-rated form
IS Feb—l Mar 2001 THE LIST 119