THAT WAS THE BOX – February 2016 (Week One) | TV Reviews
‘WAR AND PEACE‘ (BBC1 – BBC IPLAYER)
I hope no one was having a late supper on Sunday evening when ‘War and Peace‘ was on, because they would have been likely to chuck it all back up again. This was one of the goriest things I’ve seen on TV in a long time, with men blown in half, people having their legs cut off (without anaesthetic, obviously) and men suffering other nasty wounds. But then again, whoever said war was pretty?
Meanwhile, back home, Natasha was in a state of flux, not knowing if she wants kinky Anatole or stoic Andrei. She considers herself a fallen woman because she fell for Anatole’s ‘charms’. I’m not sure if they’re supposed to have done the deed or not, but she’s pretty cut up. Pierre rushed to her side, almost declaring his love, before deciding this was stupid and instead running off to war, where he offered to help, largely by standing around in his civilian clothing and being told by officers that he should go home.
Naturally the Daily Mail got their knickers in a twist because there was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of a soldier emerging from the water, stark naked. They harped on about it happening 26 mins after the watershed. So what? Kiddies should have been in bed, and even so, there was nothing gratuitous about it, and half the population owns a willy, so what’s the big deal? He wasn’t waggling it around or trying to seduce some woman. Back then soldiers swam naked. What did they want to see? Them posing like David Beckham in a pair of tighty whitey speedos?
One thing I do find puzzling is that French woman who is Marya’s companion has what looks like two very modern round, breast implants. Were Russian doctors so advanced in the early 1800s, that they were performing boob jobs? Talking of Marya, we saw a spark of attraction between her and Nikolai Rostov. Whatever will Sonya do? I have to say Jessie Buckley is a very good actress, at times she sounds a little Irish, but she has come a long way since ‘I’d Do Anything‘ (the competition to find a Nancy in ‘Oliver‘ – she lost out to Jodie Prenger). Musical theatre’s loss is serious drama’s gain. She’s possibly the best actress in the entire programme. Lily James looks pretty, but she’s good at simpering and crying and that’s about it. Jessie Buckley can portray a range of emotions without saying a word or shedding a tear. Her expressive face says it all.
Talking of accents. Why was Brian Cox’s character Scottish? And why did the serfs have accents from the North of England? Was Tsar Alexander I really that attractive?
Helene wants to annul her marriage to Pierre so she can marry the random she’s bonking, and her brother Anatole had half his leg removed, whilst Andrei – who had vowed to kill him after his seduction of Natasha – held his hand. Andrei is also now Count Boronski, seeing as his father dropped dead after falling off his horse as he made his way to war (not that he would have been allowed to fight). Jim Broadbent as certainly showed his acting chops in this programme and by his performance in this, if they ever remade ‘The Madness of King George‘, he would be an ideal person to play the part.
It all comes to an end next week and I’m a bit disappointed. I’ve grown to enjoy the soap opera and I’m even tempted to read the book!
‘PHONE SHOP IDOL‘ (BBC2 – BBC IPLAYER)
It’s the regional heats and the final 36 have to come face to face with the judges, where they will have to demonstrate their technical knowledge and interpersonal skills. In a surprise move, Maria from Tesco has been given a second chance after a competitor drops out, but it’s at such late notice, she does not have time to do any prep work. Unlike Kiet and Ayyub, who are being coached by superstar manager Jason, who has even composed a rap to help them remember the technical specifications of the phones. Ayyub is so nervous, he’s letting off toxic farts in his car!
My favourite, Roland, arrives at the hotel where the heats are taking place, on his hoverboard, and is so lively, that one of the other competitors is convinced he must be on something. I just think his happiness comes from the fact that he has been given the opportunity to make something of his life in this country, and he’s embracing it.
The first challenge was to pull something out of a mystery bag and try to make it sound interesting, no matter how dull it is (QVC presenters have been doing this for years) Kiet got a pink disco wig, someone else got a toilet roll, and one competitor even called a rubber ducky a ‘floatation device’ which I thought was quite clever. Maria got off to a good, confident start with her ping-pong ball, but it went downhill quickly. I would be reduced to jelly if I had to endure Sunetra’s withering gaze, I tell ye.
Just like me, the judges smile at Roland’s enthusiasm, but they are despaired at Ayyub’s lack of technical knowledge, but he does make judge Christian cry, when he points out that he wants to win, to make his dad finally proud of him. Ayyubs’s dad doesn’t seem like the most encouraging man, and when he points out that Ayyub’s sisters are brighter than him, it’s said as though that’s something to be ashamed of.
My favourite part was when the assistants from different stores had to go head-to-head, like the battle rounds on ‘The Voice‘! Trying to outdo each other in technical knowledge and what their store has to offer. It was almost as exciting as the final rap battle in ‘Eight Mile‘, except for a lot of umming and ahhing.
In the end Gemma does enough to impress the judges, whilst Kiet and Mark are given wildcards and much to my delight, Roland is through, because not only is he charming and funny, he also has great technical knowledge, which even impressed Sunetra and that’s saying something.
Next week is the final round of the regional heats. Can’t wait!
‘WEBCAM BOYS‘ (BBC3 – BBC IPLAYER)
In this modern age, where everything revolves around the internet, it seems there is nothing that can’t be done online that once upon a time was done in Soho peepo bars! According to this documentary, there are currently more men than women providing a sexual service via webcam, and whilst I find this hard to believe, I guess the programme makers have done their research.
We followed the lives of four young men making a healthy living doing webcam work. There were best friends Martyn and Will, who say they are straight and yet perform gay-ish acts on camera for the benefit of men willing to pay a lot of money to watch them. Martyn seemed affable and easy-going, and his ever-changing front tooth was a source of amusement. Apparently talking on camera to documentary makers is okay for having your normal snuggle tooth, but when you’re getting it on for the webcam, the false tooth is required!
Then there was Will, a very pretty boy who was like a hybrid of Tom Daley and Brandon Flowers, who had the steeliest expression I have ever seen in someone so young. He literally looked as though he would sell his grandmother if he was offered enough money. His ambition (and I think Martyn just goes along for the ride) is to expand and have a network of webcammers both male and female, and indeed their method is to approach random young women in the street and ask if they would like to become webcam girls. Naturally most girls run in the other direction. They’d be better off using Gumtree.
Then there was Pete. He caters for the muscle worship customers, whereby men pay cash to look at his big, chunky, muscled body. Pete was a builder but discovered he could earn more cash by getting his kit off on camera. He’s got a partner and kid to support, so you can see his motives. One got the feeling, he was a little out of his depth (proof of this came at the end) and he didn’t seem to know where to draw boundaries. He didn’t just stick to performing on camera, he decided to meet clients as well, who wanted him to crush them. His partner, Lily said she was fine about it, but there was something in her eyes that said differently. One thing did amuse me was when Pete said that the men only seemed to be interested in him as an object and not as a person – welcome to a woman’s world, Pete!
Finally there was Joseph, or JMatt as he calls himself. The only gay in a Welsh village, he has the most supportive parents in the world, who have allowed him to turn their garden shed into his webcam den.
His mum only grateful that he left the life of drugs that he was indulging in when he lived in London and vice behind, and he was back with them. Joseph’s hazy recollections of his former life reminded me of Danny from ‘London Spy‘, and I almost wanted him to meet a handsome spook who’d be found in a suitcase, and Joseph would investigate his death and realise he’s capable of espionage rather than just sticking a ball gag in his mouth in his mum’s garden shed! Seriously though, his mum was lovely, and it’s a shame more parents can’t be like it. Joseph struck me as quite lonely, so it was heartening at the end when we learnt that he had met one of his webcam fans and they had started a relationship.
I’m not quite sure why Martyn, Will and their friends chose a freezing day on a beach to do their photoshoot. Surely, as a guy, you would want somewhere warm if you were trying to sell your wares…as it were? At the end of the programme we discovered they are continuing their quest for world domination and I truly feel Will won’t be happy until he invades Poland.
As for Pete, well I knew he was out of his depth when he was considering meeting a client who had previously suggested involving his fifteen year old daughter in an orgy. Once the daughter was taken out of the equation, Pete was okay with it. Anyone in their right mind would have phoned the police and reported the creep. Thankfully by the end, we learnt that Pete had realised camming wasn’t for him and he was now working in security.
And I can’t believe there men out there who pay good money to watch someone burp! Right, where’s that bottle of lemonade…?