My original blog was Hoses of the Holy (ca. 2003), which ended up being abandoned in the dark days of 2007. I started this one in 2011. Scroll down for the archives!

I’ve been watching

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Something old, something new…

The new (and final) season of Endeavour prompted a brief subscription to ITVX so I can watch without suffering the torture of ad breaks, which are not only frequent and repetitive, but cause buffering in the stream. BUFFERING IN THE STREAM, I tell you.

So I watched some old Morse, back to the beginning in the 4:3 standard def late 1980s. So weird! Television has come a long way. John Thaw’s portrayal of the character is all grumpy bluster, a mere sketch compared to Shaun Evans as Endeavour. And the framing of 4:3 feels claustrophobic, an effect doubled and redoubled by directorial choices: scenes shot from behind a screen or barrier, through a window, doorway, and so on. On top of this, a lot of the editing feels abrupt, almost arbitrary, with scenes finishing before they quite seem done.

And what is most notable in those early Morse episodes, of course, was his terrible habit of being fatally involved with a woman who turns out to be a suspect. I feel that the eyeroll emoji was invented to facilitate reactions to this.

What else is on? There’s Liaison ( TV+), which is British-French co-production thing about terror(yawn)ists and hack(yawn)ers and a compromised intelligence agent keeping sec(yawn)rets from her Significant Other and some rogue French agent running around duffing people up. I’ve no idea what’s happening.

Then there’s Shrinking ( TV+), with Jason Segel and Harrison Ford, with Vanessa Williams and Luke Tennie. It wants to be the new Ted Lasso, and it has its moments, but really its just property porn. It’s interesting seeing Harrison Ford doing a bit of light comedy, and I’m watching it, but it’s not very memorable.

Meanwhile over on Amazon, we’ve got The Consultant, which is one of those doesn’t-know-what-it-is shows. The biggest question hanging over it is, how did this get made? Amazon lists its genres as “comedy, suspense, drama”, and there’s your trouble. It doesn’t know what it is. It’s certainly not funny, and substitutes a kind of crass nastiness for humour, along with a bunch of characters working in the tech industry who are all terrible. It’s Amazon reverting to type, basically, because they are the streaming network which has no taste.

Also on Amazon, we have the first three episodes of Daisy Jones and the Six, based on the best-selling novel. This is moderately entertaining, a tale of the music industry in the 70s in the same vein as Almost Famous (good), and Grace of My Heart (also good) with some elements of HBO’s Vinyl (not good). But there’s a simple problem with this kind of thing, which the TV series Nashville addressed head-on: for this potentially great Fleetwood Mac type band to be convincing, you need some convincingly good songs (and performances). So far, the songs in the show have been underwhelming, on the dull side, B-sides at best.

Then there’s the question of how great this band is supposed to be. So far, not very convincing. Partly, this is because there’s a lot of focus on the front man (and his opposite number, who for most of the first three episodes has yet to encounter the band), whereas when it comes to truly great bands, the backline are just as important. Fleetwood Mac, after all, are named after their rhythm section. So you don’t get much of a sense that this is a good band.

Then there’s the way the show tries to dramatise the process of writing songs. I feel like Macca’s conjuring of “Get Back” in Get Back is now the baseline for this kind of thing. Which is before you get to the bit where Daisy Jones joins them in the recording studio and they start arguing about which set of lyrics they’re using. LOL.

It’s watchable enough but as fascinating as we all find the stories that the music industry throws up, there is a sense that it’s always the same (old) story. I wonder about musicians, as they start ingesting too many drugs and too much alcohol: do they see themselves ploughing the same old furrow? The drink, the drugs, the womanising, the oversized egos, the moustaches. Is there anything new to say about all this?


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