Tag Archives: The Wire

Box set addiction


This morning, Juice, our local radio station (which is worth a listen just for the ads) had a breakfast show competition to win tickets to see last year’s X-Factor finalists who are performing at The Brighton Centre.  The two phone-in competitors had to answer trivia questions about last year’s show and I have to admit it was quite gripping in it’s sheer ‘oooh, I should know this’ factor.  The kids and I sat in the car staring at each other.  Who replaced Frankie Cocozza?  Ahh, Amelia what’s-her-name.  Of course.

I was stunned by how little information I had retained, despite picking up snippets of the show, although I wasn’t one of the 13 million who watched the final.

Perhaps it’s as they say, that booze, age and children stunt the memory (I have a high score in all three categories).  Or perhaps it’s just that television does something to your brain and it really is hypnotherapy for the masses. You only have to put a screaming infant in front of a Baby Einstein video to see that this is true.

I sat in the hairdressers this week and all the mags were shouting about how brilliant TV suddenly is, with The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent and Titanic, but I’m not going to get suckered in.

What I really want is a new box set. Box sets are – after house prices and schools – the most common topic of conversation during your average dinner party or night out at the pub. A box set addiction like mine is a guaranteed conversation starter.  Box sets elevate TV into a proper modern art form.

And it has to be a box set.  I can’t do episode by episode. Homeland, for example, has simply fluffed me for a new series to sink my teeth into.  I’m too much of a junkie to be able to stand being drip-fed the divine Damian Lewis on a Sunday night.  It’s too frustrating.

It’s like the eighties all over again when we had to wait a whole week before the next episode of Fame.  But this is the twenty-first century people, when you can watch a whole series if you want until your eyes bleed (the first series of 24); become so engrossed that you become one of the characters (like when I turned into Carmella from The Sopranos or Tina Fey from 30Rock); develop irrational crushes on the male leads however unsuitable (David Duchovny in Californication – OMG!) or suitable (Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights – I could seriously marry him); and make you re-assess your opinions on, say, gangland crime (The Wire), the police (The Shield ), or even making your own drugs (Breaking Bad).

So I need my next fix.  Suggestions please?

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A quick Oscars rant

I’ve bought all the rags for the reportage this week, but to be honest I’ve gone off The Oscars. I’ve always been a fan and I still love the dresses, although everyone looked rather silvery and wedding-ish this year.  Oh, hang on, apart from the most beautiful girl in the world Charlize Theron.  What was she thinking?  She looked like an under-developed bridesmaid in that squished boob purple number.
So the reason for my disdain this year?
The realization that it’s all such a big stitch up.  It always has been, but I’m even more annoyed this year, because the critically revered films being lauded, Avatar, Inglorious Basterds and The Hurt Locker are three of the worst films I’ve seen.  Controversial, I know, but this is my blog and I’ll rant if I want to.  Hear me out.

Avatar first.  Boring.  I fell asleep for forty minutes during it and woke up in the cinema still bored.  Sure, the effects were good, but you get used to them after the first five minutes and then you’re left with a tired story-line lifted from Pocahontas and World of Warcraft.  The planet never seemed real and the scale was all wrong.  The American invaders so over the top and unpleasant, they were a parody.  I just felt ripped off.  Like I did when I saw Titanic and realized I’d fallen for the hype.

Inglorious Basterds…!  Don’t get me started.  I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence and I hated Kill Bill, but yet again I fell for the hype, only to realize straight away that Tarantino is getting away with murder.  Of modern history mostly.  The whole thing was just such a pile of pants.  I know there’s the argument that film-making is supposed to provoke a reaction in the audience, but outrage wasn’t the emotion I was looking for. I was seriously tempted to write and ask for my money back.

The Hurt Locker – well, I guess it’s America’s way of feeling good about the war in Iraq, but I just didn’t care.  It posed in parts as docudrama but the characters never felt like anything other than actors.  Guy Pearce was the only good thing about it and he lasted less than ten minutes.  Ralph Fiennes, a supposed special forces operative, stranded in full view of the enemy because – wait for it – his mate had thrown a wrench at someone! – hammed it up so much, it was like he’d been in the desert since The English Patient.

Maybe I’m just being pernickety because I’m a writer and during my viewing journey plot holes jump out at me as clearly as pot holes, but it annoys me that these hugely hyped, expensive films aren’t better, when Americans are SO good when it comes to the TV series.

Oh, how I love American TV series.  You see, I am a total addict of the DVD box set.

It started with 24 one cold winter.  I still hear the plink plink of the introduction music and I’m transported back under a duvet, bleary-eyed and desperate for sleep, but fizzing with excitement and committed to watching just one more episode.

Then there was all of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which is genius.  The Shield saw me through writing Platinum because the plot pace was so fab. There was a lot to learn too from  The Wire with its totally believable characters and Mad Men with such awesome character development.  Cameron, Tarantino and Bigelow take note please.

Californication seasons one and two brought sunshine into my January.  And let’s face it, if I ever did get to chat with Kirsty on Desert Island Discs, my one luxury would be a DVD player loaded with the whole of The Sopranos.  I still miss Tony like a fun, but naughty dead uncle.

My latest addiction is Harper’s Island.  We’re saving the last two episodes for tonight.  Oh it’s good.  So good. There’ll only be one series sadly, as most of the characters get killed off, but it’s impossible to predict who’s for the chop.  The episodes are fabulously named after the sound of each death ‘Ka-Blam’, ‘Sploosh’, ‘Gurgle’.  You an imagine.  No, actually you can’t.  It’s much better.  Go see.

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