If it works, don’t change it. That seems to be the mantra for a number of formulaic TV programmes these days, and that’s not to say they are bad, but they just don’t challenge those brain cells. Take the ever-expanding NCIS franchise, which is the biggest thing on US network these days. NCIS is where CSI was a decade ago and is the most watched show in America. Back in 2009, we saw the launch of spin-off NCIS: – Los Angeles, and we now have NCIS: – New Orleans, screened on Channel Five. Based on the very first episode, we have a routine story-line (I guessed who dunnit in five seconds), and doesn’t know where to pitch itself, either in the comedy camp, or a bit more like the original NCIS. With it being New Orleans, we get the leading actor, the familiar Scott Bakula (pictured), drawling away like Deputy Dawg in an off-putting southern accent, and yes we got some jazz in the first episode, plus a crooked-looking politician. I presume that voodoo and Cajan music will be featured soon! As an undemanding relaxing watch, it works but it just seems like same old, same old, and in an era where we can be treated to transatlantic delights like The Good Wife or Game of Thrones, this really is TV drama by the numbers.
There’s also a lot of déjà vu about Ant and Dec’s Saturday Takeaway which turned up like the cavalry arriving late at Little Big Horn to rescue what’s left of ITV’s wretched Saturday line up. The boys are great(and nearly trebled the viewing figures), but we’ve seen all the elements before in shows like Game for a Laugh or the old Gotcha routine (it was funny though with Olly Murs as the victim) in the days of Noel’s House Party. That being said, you can’t help being infected by the fun and enthusiasm of it all, and it’s like Shakespeare compared to what has filled the slot since the start of the year. It’s a good laugh and I’m happy to record it along with The Voice to enjoy watching both. By the way, it was funny seeing will.i.am on The Voice hanging out for a great final singer and getting a modest Tina Turner karaoke performer instead. He handled things very diplomatically whilst the other judges contained their laughter well.
Oh dear, oh dear! Bear Grylls is the latest person to put his career on the line by joining ITV, and his Friday night show with a bunch of Z-list celebrities being put through meaningless survival challenges is just awful. Surely Grylls, maker of fine programmes for the Discovery Channel and Channel Four could not be that desperate for the money? By the way, why does every “challenge”-type show, be it studio or outdoor-based, feel the need to offer us up allegedly familiar names that must eat away heavily at programme budgets. Fair enough for Celeb Big Brother or I’m a Celebrity, but please put a stop to this soon, because viewers don’t really care, as witnessed by the fact that this rubbish called Mission Survive couldn’t even muster three million UK viewers and trailed behind Channel Four and BBC1 last Friday.
US TV execs must be lipping their lips with Patricia Arquette’s Oscar win last Sunday night. She’s the lead in the latest CSI spin-off Cyber, which starts soon, and will air on Channel Five.