You don’t really have come up with anything dramatically new to create some enjoyable Saturday night television, and that’s certainly the case in Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, which stormed back for a third series with six million viewers for BBC 1 at the weekend.
It’s a very entertaining show fronted by McIntyre who kicks-off with one of his routines; brings on a couple of excellent turns in Emeli Sande and Joe Lycett; does his mobile phone messaging bit (this time with ex-politician Ed Balls); and does a couple of “Ordinary Joe” routines including the Unexpected Star (we got a really good opera-style singer) and a very funny new Midnight Gameshow sequence, where Dean the plumber (pictured above) got surprised in his bedroom with McIntyre appearing at 3.00 am with a cast of thousands!
McIntyre scores high with likeability in a show that would not have been out of place three decades ago, but so what? It’s professionally done and a good piece of silly fun that hits the absolute right note and puts to shame some of the dumb ideas that have been foisted upon the viewers over the last couple of years. Dove-tailing between Strictly and Casaulty, it’s given the BBC another successful “linear” schedule, in other words a deck of shows that have people sticking throughout the evening without resorting to the remote control.
I love panel shows but we don’t seem to get enough of them these days and that’s strange because they are cheap to put on. Lo and behold, two of the very best returned on the same night on BBC 1 and BBC 2 on Monday in the shape of Would I Lie To You (Ed Balls popping up again) and Insert Name Here. WILTY works great because of the dynamic betwene Rob Brydon, David Mitchell, and Lee Mack. The much newer boy on block, INH, also has that same sort of spirit between Sue Perkins, Richard Osman, and Josh Widdicombe, as we get to grips with some historical trivia.
I was really looking forward to the return of The Weakest Link as part of Children in Need last Friday, but I was left a wee bit disappointed. It may have just been my perception, but I thought this celebrity edition seemed to be a bit slow in pace, but the barbs from Anne Robinson were just as good as before. I’d certainly order some Saturday night celebrity specials for the spring and summer for BBC 1, and now we wait for the New Year revival of the Generation Game with Mel and Sue!
Netflix is really firing up the bullets at the moment ahead of the impending release of season two of The Crown. If you want something different, try Stranger Things. I got totally hooked by the first series, and you’d wonder what would be appealing about a group of young kids in an American town of the early eighties getting involved in some spooky sci-fi goings on? Try it, and you’ll enjoy some realistic performances by some talented young actors in a mix of the funny, dramatic, and moving. The always-testing second season has delivered with the episodes that I have had time to watch so far.
Also out on Netflix is the zillionth show out of the Marvel stable, The Punisher, which is the story of an ex-marine out to wreak revenge on those who killed his family and who gets embroiled in an even bigger plot. I’m sure I’ve seen Steven Seagal and other movies go down this line, except that this is even more violent and darker. Frank Castle is played by Walking Dead original cast-member Jon Bernthal (he was Rick’s copper colleague who had an affair with Rick’s wife), and he’s grumpy and seriously dead-pan. I’m told that the pace picks up a fair bit halfway through the series, but it was certainly pedestrian in episode one, though I did like the style and mood. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. it most definitely isn’t!