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*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.



You may be wondering what I've been watching lately. Just as equally you may be 600 pound super-intelligent, giant-sized, cyborg marmot.

The answer, my huge, mechanical, furry chum is that I've been having at some British TV. It's something I do anyway, but I tend to do it more in American TV downtime, like the summer months. However, all the time is downtime now.

I periodically hit the BBC, ITV, etc sites to see what's new. That's how I first found stuff like Life On Mars, Jekyll and even Spooks...way back when.

First up, The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, from ITV2. It is, much as it title implies, the life of a high class call girl, played by Billie Piper. It's, to me, much like the 2G (3G really, because the current crop of "girl gang" shows are the 2G) wave of what Sex & The City began, but dirtier. Good clean dirty dirty fun, it is. It's not change-your-world levels of writing, but it's solidly entertaining and I had at the whole series in one go.

It won me over damn quick though, with this line in the first minute of the first episode.

  • I wasn't abused by a relative, I've got no children to support and I've never been addicted to anything.
  • (beat)
  • ...except for maybe the fourth season of The West Wing know...

As Hannah/Belle, Piper not only narrates the episodes, but frequently goes fourth wall-less, as frequently as she goes crotchless. She gets odd clients, gets attracted to the wrong guys at the worst times and there's the little thrill of looking in a certain world.

I understand Showtime has picked it up to run in the states and a second series has been ordered by ITV.

Watch it on Showtime, because ITV has not one, but two bugs on screen and one of them is an obnoxious, opaque green...or because it's, you know...more legal.

After that, I had a look at a few, but not all of The Sarah Jane Adventures, The Doctor Who spin-off (the Doctor Who theme underlying this post was unintentional, but unavoidable, Piper being on the first two seasons). I admit, I let some genreism get to me, because I wasn't going to look at it as it airs on CBBC and as such is pretty much aimed squarely at 12 year-olds in the way that Doctor Who really is not.

It's no misconception. It is really aimed there and three of the main characters are that age. There is stuff in there for the parents and nods to the parent show and that makes it, to me, better than the average kids sci-fi show. Some of the stuff just seems silly. Like Sarah Jane's sonic lipstick variation of the sonic screwdriver (which, btw, big shout out to Adam who sent me a fucking sonic screwdriver for my birthday) and "Mr. Smith" the super-computer she's got stashed in the wall. However, given the source material, silly is to be expected, it just doesn't have quite that "Douglas Adamsy" flavor, but ultimately, it finds away to work within its own contexts.

Of huge disappointment is that, despite a brief appearance, K-9 (the tin dog) is written out of the show for the most part. It's only of consequence to Doctor Who fans, but it blows.

Effects quality is variable, but in the pilot it's all-stops-pulled.

Naturally, the better stuff seems to have been written by the big dog at Who, Russell Davies.

Sarah Jane has a cool character arc going on as she starts out as a closed-off and frosty individual (who investigates alien stuff). She fears for the safety of those who would be around her and she's still a little stung about getting left in Croydon (or rather Aberdeen). Also, she gets a second chance at a bit of life she missed out on when she finds herself adopting a son...who was artifically created as an adolescent in the first episode.

If you've got kids, I recommend it. You can watch it with the and actually enjoy the show. It's not dumbed down.

New episodes of Primeval started today. I'll have to look at those too.

Then there's Kingdom, Stephen Fry's series. The second series begins this month. I never got around to the first series, but now...
©2024 Michael Patrick Sullivan
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