I said in my review of the inspired ‘Bored To Death’ that there are very few TV series that pass me by. There are a few box-sets however that for one reason or another sit in their polythene wrappers gathering dust even when I’m in the Sunday hangover position complaining of having absolutely nothing to watch. These DVD’s, like the fat kid on the high board, just stand there taking up space, the longer I procrastinate about watching them the less likely I am to jump in.
Californication has sat on my DVD shelf taking up space longer than the clichéd can of kidney beans in the kitchen. I don’t really know why I never gave it a go. Maybe I needed time to let X-files crawl its way to the deep recesses of my memory before I could see Duchovni as anyone else other than Spooky Mulder. Maybe it was Natasha McElhone’s accent in Ronin I was trying to forget but for whatever reason Californication sat, unwatched and gathering dust…until last week.
There are dozens of films and shows about struggling writers. We write about what we know and every writer knows struggle. From the aforementioned ‘Bored To Death’ to my new favourite radio comedy ‘Ed Reardon’s Week’ and onto the countless others, there is a vast pile of hugely likable celluloid characters of the written word. There is, however, one who stands head and shoulders above the rest, a God amongst these literary legends and his name is Hank.
Hank’s life is complicated. The love of his life and baby-mama Karen is about to marry Bill (or dial-tone as Hank calls him, so named for his droning monotony). Becca their twelve year old rock-a-goth daughter is living with Mum and dial-tone leaving Hank on his own.
Hank is disillusioned and Hank can’t write. His last book, a deeply dark, soul-exposing cynically comical tome called ‘God Hates Us All’ was run through the Hollywood mill only to come out the other side as ‘A Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ starring Tom-Kat.
His agent and best friend Runkle, whilst waiting for Hank to tap the keys again, is trying to hold on to his job, spice things up with his firecracker wife, the ‘sexy smurf’ and stave off the advances of his beautifully pierced PA.
And Hank, well Hank just can’t stop drinking, partying and sleeping with every beautiful woman California has to offer. With his dry whit, charm and dishevelled good looks every woman he meets ends up throwing themselves at him. He moves from one to another, quite often in the same night, and still they all love him.
However sometimes it’s possible to sleep with the wrong woman and so starts the spiral that keeps the show moving forward and the viewer hooked.
It’s the ultimate, “oh just one more episode and then I’ll do some work”.
I’m four seasons down in a week and I still want more…
Californication is for want of a better phase. Fucking Brilliant.
And killer soundtrack!
Let’s call this part two.
It was raining this morning.
Far too heavily to cycle, so I caught the bus. I like the bus, I’ve always preferred the bus to the tube. Not as many people standing on the left, or stopping as soon as they’ve passed through the barriers or stepped off the escalator.
It might seem a little draconian but I’ve often thought that people should have to hold a license to travel on the tube during the rush-hour. A license that requires the holder to have passed a stringent exam, both theoretical and practical, on the intricacies and etiquette of tube use.
I’m not for one moment saying that people without such a license should be prevented from using the underground. However, like L-plates, perhaps they should be issued with a florescent bibs highlighting them as ‘learners’. Maybe with ‘Might Stop Without Warning” emblazoned on the back…
Might be a little too draconian.
But it’s a thought.
Anyway this morning, as I was saying, I took the bus.
And like I said I like the bus. You get to look out of the window.
I’m also lucky that my bus stop is at the beginning of the line so there’s always a seat. Not that I wouldn’t give it up if the situation arose.
This morning the bus was empty. Well nearly empty. There were a few people on the top deck. One of them was a girl called Emma. She had just finished her A-levels and was on the way to meet some friends in Battersea park, but not Jemima, Emma doesn’t like Jemima. Jemima’s a bitch apparently.
Emma’s just been asked to be a bridesmaid at Vicky’s wedding. The dress is to be blue but Emma’s worried that it won’t go with her hair, she might have to get it coloured.
She’s not keen on the shoes Vicky’s chosen to boot, which is just making matters worse. She’s actually thinking of saying no to being a bridesmaid, just so she can choose a dress herself.
Now you might be asking yourself; what I was doing talking to an eighteen year old girl called Emma on the bus?
I wasn’t even sitting upstairs.
Emma’s quite loud when she’s on the phone.
Luckily I had my iPod, it just took me the length of the wedding conversation, inter-cut with a bit of Jemima bashing, to unravel my headphones…
So on to part two:
I decided not to listen to comedy. My laughter might have been misconstrued and thought to be directed at Emma.
I decided instead on a bit of brain-food. And for brain-food, with a little comedy too, I highly recommend either of these:
The Infinite Monkey Cage: (BBC podcast seasons 1-4)
Professor Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince invite renowned scientists, theologians, writers, thinkers and the odd comedian to discuss everything from religion and the universe to the LHC and statistics. It’s brilliantly insightful, often hilarious and always a good workout for the grey cells.
Brian Cox is as enthusiastic as ever and really quite funny .
Things can’t get much better than this
The Museum of Curiosity: (Seasons 1-4)
It’s a bit like QI for your ears. John Lloyd (creator of QI) is joined, depending on the season, by guest hosts Billy Bailey, Jon Richardson, Sean Lock and Dave Gorman as they invite a panel of brainiacs to take on the job of curator and fill the museum with things they find fascinating. It really is a quite exceptional series and I hope there’s more to come. Listen out for the mind blowing episode with Dr Rupert Sheldrake.
That’s it for now.
I wonder why Emma hates Jemima so much?
I have a new office and I have a new bike. Actually I have 4750 newish bikes to be exact. And whilst whizzing around town on my blue-boris I’ve been getting an earful of radio comedies and podcasts.
I know I’m a little behind the times, I just got so bored with bloody Ricky Gervais (are we allowed to say that yet?) that I put all podcasts on the backburner for a while. And I’m glad I did as I now have hundreds of hilarious hours to listen to as I look for a cycle-dock.
There are so many to mention that I’m not sure whether to write separate reviews for each or just bombard you with a long list now.
It’s Monday and I’ve got a lot to do.
A list it is.
Well maybe a few words with each….
Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off (Seasons 1-4)
Marcus Brigstocke’s hapless Carthusian takes a permanent gap-year and generally toffs things up as he travels from lovely Budleigh to Bolivia and beyond. With two M’s, two G’s and a 90 litre rucka, Giles leaves his mark on more countries than cholera, with not dissimilar results.
Think The Unthinkable (Seasons 1-4)
Brigstocke again, this time in the world of management consultants. Unthinkable Solutions are all about pushing the envelope, riding the gravy train, low hanging fruit and corporate restructuring that incorporates the elephants ears whilst keeping the feet, tail and trunk in a logistical three-way paradigm that best serves the consumers spending power. These are the kind of guys that call a spade a square headed digging implement. Don’t be afraid of change, be brave, run towards it. Listen out for the brilliant David Mitchell as IT expert Owen, all aboard the fraternity of the sacred goat. Pump.
Old Harry’s Game (Seasons 1-7 and a bonus Christmas special)
Andy Hamilton is the Devil, Beelzebub, Old Harry, Satan, Old Scratch, He of the red pajamas and pitch fork; and he’s had enough. Hell’s overcrowded, his demons are revolting and they’ve just taken delivery of mankind’s all time most despicable soul, Thomas Crimp.
To make matters worse arriving at the same time as Thomas, in fact killed at the same time as Thomas, in an accident caused by Thomas, is the Professor and the Professor doesn’t believe in Hell.
Old Harry’s got to do something about this. How about instead of sowing discourse in the world of man he tries to convince them to lead better lives?
It’s a thought….
Cabin Pressure (Seasons 1-2, bonus Christmas special and Season 3 coming in July)
My personal favorite. Benedict Cumberbatch, of Sherlock fame, is Martin the only pilot on the only plane of MJN Air (actually he, Martin, agreed to work for free just so he could be pilot). Still being paid but sitting in the co-pilots chair is the sharp-tongued and infinitely more experienced Douglas, played by Roger Allam. With creator and writer John Finnemore playing the hilariously exuberant cabin boy Arthur and Stephanie Cole as Carolyn, owner of airline and Arthur’s mum, Cabin Pressure flies well away from the expected ‘airline’ humour concentrating character rather than cliché. The writing is brilliant and the acting first class.
Ok enough for now.
Lets make this part 1.
Now, off to try and find a bike.
Not many TV series escape my attention so when I find something of this caliber I’ve not seen, and with two whole seasons to watch, well it’s sad to say but I get quite excited.
After the success of his first novel, part time society columnist, Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) is struggling with his second. He drinks too much wine and smokes too much weed, and as such his girlfriend has left him along with his inspiration (this is not a situation I can relate to. I haven’t written a novel).
So Jonathan does the only thing he can do in this situation. He puts an ad on Craig’s List and starts moonlighting as a private detective…with reasonable rates.
With Raymond Chandler in his pocket, noir in his veins and leather patches on his elbows Jonathan hits the bars, bordellos and burger joints of Brooklyn looking for missing sisters, lost dogs and cheating lovers.
With a little assistance from his best pal, and cartoonist, Ray (Zach Galifianakis – in one of his best roles). And some serious hindrance from his; part-time boss, full time lothario and occasional confidant George (Ted Danson – who steals the show) Jonathan Ames is the best ‘unlicensed’ PI out there.
Bored To Death is occasionally on Sky Atlantic or season one is available to by on DVD from Monday. Season two has already aired stateside with season three on the horizon so for those of you who know how, and don’t mind doing so, there are other ways of procuring this sensational show. The way I see it, I pay for Sky and it’s going to be broadcast eventually….is that so wrong?
Oh and did I mention it has one of the best opening titles ever….
Or so I thought until I discovered the brilliant LUTHER had returned to BBC1.
Idris ‘Stringer Bell’ Elba is back as the deeply troubled but unfathomably cool Detective John Luther.
Starting his day with a black coffee and game of Russian-roulette, Luther leads his small band of equally colorful cops through the black underbelly of the nations capital. Hunting serial killers, saving strays and scheming with sociopaths. Luther and co do what ever it takes to catch the bad guys whilst trying to stay on the right side of the law, just.
On the trail of the seemingly omnipotent slasher Spring-heeled Jack, Luther is once again making the wrong decisions for the right reasons. Last seasons enemies are pretending to be friends and his previous enemies are the ones he trusts. But will they all make it to the end of the season?
Judging by last nights episode, probably not.
Some parents are saying that Dr Who is getting too scary for kids. Well make sure they’re tucked up long before 9pm on Tuesday nights because mummy’s going to need the space behind the sofa…
Get on iPlayer and get watching.
Now the big question; why only four episodes!?