THAT WAS THE BOX – March 2016 (Week One) | TV Reviews
We take a look at Episode 1 of Channel 4's RAISED BY WOLVES - Series 2; BBC2's STAG and BBC3's new drama THIRTEEN.
‘STAG‘ (BBC2 – BBC IPLAYER)
Living in a part of London populated with posh, city twats; the thought of a TV show about a bunch of horrible, posh, city twats going on a stag hunting weekend and meeting horrible fates, sounded too good to resist.
Ian (played by Jim Howick – Gerard from ‘Peep Show‘) is the only normal one out of a group of men who are celebrating the stag weekend of Johnners, his sister’s fiancé. They don’t know each other at all, but Ian has been roped in because their friend Christoph can’t make it. A mere teacher, Ian does not fit in with the City traders. Most unpleasant of the lot is Ledge (played by JJ Field playing an extreme version of the character he played in the film ‘Third Star‘). Ledge is arrogant, cruel, cocky and a snob. Next there is Cosmo, hilariously played by Rufus Jones (I love the Jones) who seems to think he is some sort of World War 2 hero. There is the Mexican, the obligatory thick one. There’s Aitken, the odd one, Neils, the second most normal one, and Wendy who is played by Reece Sheersmith who makes this sort of horror programme his own.
After the ‘pals’ abandon poor Ian to pay their bar bill in a pub, that looks as though it’s come out of Deliverance, they all travel with the gamekeeper who abandons them at a Ford, forcing them to walk across it, naked. With nowhere to go, Ian gains a modicum of respect by suggesting they set up camp in a clearing. That’s when things start to turn nasty. After confessing to Ian that he actually doesn’t like the other guys, Aitken is dispatched by a bolt being fired through his chest and then dragged off into the woods. Next, Ian discovers that Wendy did not go to school with the guys, but before he can tell him how he met them, he too is murdered.
Next Cosmo fell down a hole, where he was trapped by a twisted ankle, and he too was shot by a bolt, fortunately (or unfortunately) his mobile phone took the impact and he was saved. Naturally, suspicions turn to Ian, seeing as he is the stranger in the camp and all these horrible things have started to happen since he joined them. All except the Mexican who is convinced it is some sort of woodland demon who part of folklore out to get them all. Finally, Neils was caught by the predator and pulled away by a rope around his foot.
Hilarity came when they found Aitkens lower torso, and Neils decided to carry the legs on his shoulders, so they could give him a proper burial. The humour is certainly very black in this programme with gory murders and jokes about being raped by stags. In places it feels like an extended version of the No One Knows video by Queens of the Stone Age (YouTube it!), that, and ‘And Then There Were None‘, except that there is no chance of Aidan Turner wrapped in a bed sheet (sob) rather six rather pasty, naked men trying to cross a ford.
The great thing with a story like this is that the characters (except Ian) are all so unpleasant, you actually don’t care what happens to them. It ended where the gamekeeper has them trapped in a house, with a gun pointing to them. Is he the Fairmoor, the mythological beast or just a man sick to death of posh twats using his home as a chance to be ‘men’ for a weekend, and showing no gratitude for it? Oh and I’m sure it’s pronounced sheer-az…
More to come next week….
‘RAISED BY WOLVES‘ (CHANNEL 4 – ALL4)
The sitcom loosely based on the early life of journalist Caitlin Moran, returns for its second series and it certainly hit the ground running. It pretty much picked up from series one, with no introduction to the characters, just business as normal. Scary mum, Della has decided she can’t afford the internet anymore and unplugs it, bringing the house to a grounding halt.
Aretha can no longer show her sister Yoko videos of people being run over, and Germaine can’t gross out her younger siblings with videos of people squeezing massive cysts. It also prevents her looking at pictures of Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch. Horrified, she is forced to go to the public library, where she runs into young Callum, a friend of her former crush, Lee. Germaine, in her own inimitable style decides to flirt with him, by borrowing Yoko’s glasses and doing a sexy librarian dance – complete with licking a book about chlamydia! It works, because Callum asks her out.
Germaine is even more hormonal and gross this series, and how she goes about keeping Callum’s interest is quite revolting. Without going into details, it involves her ‘scenting herself’ and not with Impulse. The poor boy doesn’t know what has hit him, but he is a big success with Della, by stupidly revealing his wifi’s network name and password and seeing as he only lives across the road, it means the Garry family gets free wifi.
Della is a great character – part lion, part warrior. She wears a tool belt and calls skips ‘the poor woman’s ikea’. Her venture worked though, as she got a free chest of drawers, which she got Grampy (who’s now living with the family in their coat cupboard) and young Mariah to transform into a piece of shabby chic that she could sell. Grampy was as lazy as ever and got poor little Mariah to do all the work. With his tales of debauchery with German prostitutes, it’s quite obvious where Germaine gets her hormones from!
My only criticism with ‘Raised by Wolves‘ is that, because it is based on Caitlin Moran’s early life, and she grew up in the 1980s, I feel it would be better suited to then. Apart from the internet addiction, none of the kids feel like today’s children. ‘The Kennedys‘ worked because it was set in the 1970s when Emma Kennedy was a little girl, and I think ‘Raised by Wolves‘ would have been better set in the eighties. Other than that, it’s great fun and, like ‘Chewing Gum‘, it’s female-centric and not afraid to address issues women like to talk about with each other, but might make men squirm, and there’s nowt wrong with that. We make up half the population and we do like to have a laugh occasionally, when we’re not moaning about our periods.
‘THIRTEEN‘ (BBC2 & BBC3 – BBC IPLAYER)
There are not many things on TV that make me go ‘wow’ but ‘Thirteen‘ was one of them. It starts with a young woman calmly leaving an ordinary looking house, before breaking into a sprint and finding a call box and ringing the police, claiming to be Ivy Moxam, a girl who has been missing for thirteen years. She looks the part – wild eyed, tangled hair and child-like dress, and at first we take it as read that she has been held captive for thirteen years since being snatched as a schoolgirl and is glad to be free and reunited with her family.
However, it runs a lot deeper and darker than this. At first her younger sister doesn’t even think it is Ivy, but DNA proves that she is who she says she is. Her parents are separated, but in an effort to make their daughter feel as though she is home, the dad moves back home and they try to pretend they like each other. Then there are the two detectives leading the case. From the start, the female officer has her reservations about Ivy, feeling there is more to her than meets the eye, but the male detective, Elliott, is captivated by her. Maybe it’s because he’s attracted to her vulnerability, or maybe he likes the subtle, sexualised behaviour she uses around him. The question is then, does she do this to manipulate him or is it because she has learnt that the only way to get a man on side is by using sex? After all, it’s doubtful her captor kept her hostage for thirteen years because he wanted to play tiddlywinks.
At first Ivy claims that she was kept chained in the cellar for the duration of her captivity. However, when the detectives search the house, they find not only a recent passport photo, and a wardrobe full of women’s clothes, but also a long, brown hair in the bed. Ivy is then forced to admit that Leonard her captor did indeed allow her out of the cellar, and he took her out, once. The fact that she is lying sparks doubt into the female detective’s mind, convinced that Ivy is suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. She has become attached to the man who held her and her recollections are muddled through a strange sense of loyalty to him. This is reinforced when she escapes out of the house and runs into town. The look on her face when she sees a TV screen in a shop window showing a photograph of Leonard is indecipherable. Is it fear? Or is it regret that she is away from him?
We also got glimpses of her former friends, who are now young adults. Notably Tim, her former ‘boyfriend’, who is now married, not that that seems to worry Ivy. She seems to be under the illusion they can go back to being how they used to be. Is this because emotionally she is still a child, or is it that she feels she has a power over men?
The twists went on and on. It was discovered that Leonard is actually a man called Mark White, who used to work at Ivy’s school, and even worse, it seems her mother has been having a ‘thing’ with the headmaster, who is now spooked, knowing a member of his staff was a child-abductor. The episode ended where the police reveal that another girl has been taken, and what happens next is anyone’s guess.
If Jodie Comer (last seen as the other woman in ‘Dr Foster‘) isn’t nominated for a BAFTA for her performance as Ivy, there is no justice. Wide-eyed and innocent on the surface, all the time there is the feeling that something is going on beneath the surface. As to the production, it’s clearly influenced by all that dark, Scandi-drama but I don’t mind that, it’s a dark subject so it’s all fitting. I can’t wait for episode two. Thankfully, it is now going to be shown on BBC2 as well as online only BBC3 so it will get the wider audience it deserves.