Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ax Taylor - Vanderpump Really Has to Rule On This

There is one area in which every reality “star” (and I use the word very loosely) eventually falls down: when they start to believe their own PR. Never has a more glaring case of this been more obvious than in the case of “Mr Jax Taylor” (I’m using his inflated Twitter name), who is one of the central characters of Vanderpump Rules, a spin-off starring the magnificent Lisa Vanderpump, from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
I have long been a Lisa fan. She has no idea that I know a lot of people from her time back in the UK, where she made her name (with husband Ken), not only as an extraordinary and exceptionally hard-working restaurateur, but a great businesswoman and, most significantly, a really good, fair boss. I met her when I was living in LA and, two weeks, ago, again in Cecconi’s in West Hollywood, where we spoke about my writing a piece (I write primarily for the Daily Mail) about Vanderpump Rules.
I love that show. I know the constraints and the tricks of reality TV (I’ve appeared enough in it myself), but I love the drama that VPR produces week on week, season after season. I’m always bemused that all the young people fancy each other so much when most of them are, at best, a B-rating (apart from the exquisite Scheana, who is so mega stunning, and doesn’t realise how even more stunning she is without make-up). I love Kristen, who knows that she has to be an ongoing nightmare for the show to work – and boy, can she work it.
I’m fascinated how anyone can go by the name of La-La and expect to be taken seriously. I’m disturbed by James’s ongoing, reality TV suicide meltdown and his need to talk about sex in order to try to validate himself in the cultural wasteland in which, as a Brit, he finds himself. I’m constantly amused by TT Bros – the two Tom boys, who are so dull, uninspired and uninspiring, I am surprised any woman has ever wanted to have sex with either of them. Ever.
Lisa is an exceptional puppeteer, who orchestrates reality TV to promote her business empires, and she is brilliant at it. In both shows in which she appears, she never exposes too much about herself or her family – she gets the gig, but she also values her private life.
But, back to Vanderpump Rules, and Monsieur Le Jax (oh, come on – let’s make him even grander than he already thinks himself to be). Today, his Twitter account posted a picture of Lisa’s husband Ken, following the wrap of the current series, with Monsieur LJ holding one of the family dogs and a drink. I posted a comment asking whether he had stolen dog and/or drink. 

Given that he has just returned from Hawaii, where he was, courtesy of the show, on a freebie, and ended up being arrested for stealing a pair of sunglasses, I thought the comment was fair game. Instantly, I was blocked, and told that this was the outcome for any negative comments posted about him.
Well, for a start, it wasn’t negative; also, it’s easy to follow anyone on Twitter through another account, as any self-respecting PR person should know. But they should also know that it is through what they call “negative” comment that people get to learn. Le Monsieur is not a god; he is a criminal. He has narrowly avoided jail. He has already exposed himself to be a liar and, according to people on the show, a thief, on other occasions. But hey, people - have some fun with it! Use your different accounts and get all your followers to say something, too! It works! His PR people have been on a blocking blitz this afternoon. It's hysterical! It's the guaranteed way to get him out of your life!
Lisa has said that she does not think Jax is a bad person – and I agree. I think he’s misguided, he drinks too much, and thinks through his trousers. He’s starting to look like an old soak (as we say in the UK – ask James, who, alas, is heading the same way, if he’s not careful), and it’s rather sad.
But what Le Monsieur needs more than anything at the moment is better PR: not PR people who block light-hearted banter from those on his side (I genuinely have no problem with threatening or vile people being blocked); PR people who look at his life and ask where he’s going next when this carousel comes to a stop (which it will); PR people who look at what else he might have to offer in an ever overcrowded marketplace.
Lisa Vanderpump has his back, as she does so many people with whom she works. But I’m afraid that unless something changes pretty quickly, we’re looking at Ax Taylor – and I suspect there’s very little else for him out there if he allows his people to continually throw him under the PR bus.
Vanderpump Rules. Yes, she does. But it’s also time that Le Monsieur started to apply some rules of his own. And number one? Change your PR. In my opinion, it’s ruining Lisa’s brand, it’s ruining the show, and, worse, it’s ruining you, Jax. Do something before it’s too late. Because I really do think you’re heading for the chop. And not one you’ll be able to consume in your increasingly disturbing sweaty, overweight face.
Grow up. Seriously. And get some good people around you. 

It’s a thin line between people wanting your dick and calling you one.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Heart Belongs to Telly

It’s the Marmite of the movie world: you either love it or you hate it. 

Never have I heard a movie going audience so divided; and never have I laughed so much in the face of Marmite lovers. So, here goes. Are you ready? 

I hate Marmite. 

I hate The Revenant.
The Irrelevant (yes, I hate it that much) has a lot of grunting in it. I am not averse to grunting per se, especially if said grunter is Leonardo di Caprio, but I just want something more. Yes, I know the movie’s allegorical, the bear’s great, it’s shot in natural light, blah-di-blah-di-blah, but just because a few actors got cold during the making of it doth not great art make.
For me, it hasn’t been the best of years in the movies. Every week, I see truly great art on TV – Suits, Law and Order, The Good Wife, Billions – and feel so blessed that we really do live in the golden age of television. But when it comes to the big screen, I am invariably disappointed.
This year, it astonished me that Aaron Sorkin’s adapted screenplay Steve Jobs did not make it on to the Oscar shortlist, whereas Grunthog Day looks all set to clean up in almost every category. The first half of Room was extraordinary, but then turned into something that made it seem as if the director had left that room and made room for an entirely different species altogether. In an instant, we seemed to go from Bergman to Danielle Steel.
I adored Brooklyn, not least because the struggle between one’s roots and one’s ambition is, for me, coming from Wales, something with which I battle my whole life. I really liked Spotlight, and, although it was no All the President’s Men, it made a gripping detective story out of a well-worn theme. The Big Short was watchable but incomprehensible (despite the patronising “star” inserts), and The Lady in the Van was just okay. If you like ladies. And vans.
Many years ago, I crawled through someone’s legs to reach Steven Spielberg, who had just won an award for Schindler’s List. I wanted to talk to him about another movie, though. After being introduced, I said: “I know you’ve just won for another movie, but can I just say that I think ET is the greatest movie ever made.” He replied: “Thank you so much. Do you know, I was thinking about that on Friday, and I think you could well be right.”
It remains my favourite movie of all time. It encompasses all the big, great themes – love, loss, friendship, separation, power, despair – and has the greatest cinematic moment (again, for me) ever. Those bicycles. The moment of transcendence: leaving the old world behind. Magic. Everything’s possible.
And then. Coming back to Earth. Literally and metaphorically. ET: Come. Elliot: Stay. And there you have it: the great human dilemma and the greatest story that can ever be told. I want you to come with me. I want you to stay with me. And it can’t, for whatever reason, ever happen. I am crying just writing about it. Ouch. Ouch. I’ll be right here. WAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!
I just don’t feel moved like I used to in the cinema, whereas TV regularly tears me apart. When Will Gardner (Josh Charles) died in The Good Wife, I howled. I never got over it (neither did the show, which CBS has just axed). I get very stressed every time something bad happens to Gibbs (Mark Harmon) in NCIS, and I bite off all my nails when Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht) in Suits sails too close to the wind (often - I have to move on to my toe-nails every time they threaten to put him back together with the totally unsuitable Scottie).
Television has been my life. It still amazes me that this 52- inch slice of black in the corner of my room consistently delivers such unspeakable joy every single hour of every week. When people say, trying to impress, “I don’t watch television”, I have just one response: Yes, it shows (cue sad face).
So, while I am sure that The Irrelevant will be picking up gongs, come February 28th, my heart belongs to telly.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

May Day May Day - US TV's Seasonal Cull

Would Amanda/Emily (Emily VanCamp) ever get to smile for longer than five seconds without resorting to jaw reconstructive surgery? 

Would Nolan (Gabriel Mann) ever meet a man who knew how to take his underpants off? 

Would Margaux (Karine Vanasse) ever meet more than one journalist in her media empire? 

Would Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) totally morph into The Addams Family’s Morticia?
These, and many other questions, occupied me throughout the four seasons of Revenge, which has finally succumbed to the cruel world of broadcasting euthanasia.
The writing was on the cards for the ABC show halfway through season three, when the actors started to appear as confused as viewers were as to what the hell was going on. One could only imagine the horror they felt when their eyes first alighted upon each new script, wondering how many more expressions of staring into the middle distance they could muster, while their brains tried to compute the machinations of the plot.
The last episode airs tomorrow night in the US (the UK has five weeks to go), and I have to confess that, for all its silliness, I’ll miss it.
ABC has also cancelled Forever, starring my fellow Welshman Ioan Gruffudd. I’ll miss that, too, but it’s not hard to see where it went wrong as viewing figures tumbled.
The basis premise was that Dr Henry Morgan solves crimes using medical knowledge he has gleaned over 200 years. Each time he dies, for some never quite explained reason he turns up in water, only to start life all over again – hence his living forever.
The series fell apart when they dropped the explanation from the start of each episode. If you didn’t know the basic premise, you would have been baffled as to why Abe (Judd Hirsch) was calling Henry “Dad” (Henry was his father in another life), or, even, what the flashbacks were to a young Henry. Revenge always set out its stall at the start of each episode, whereas Forever ignored a really important piece of dramatic advice – Don’t hide the ball.
May is a difficult time for US shows as they wait to hear whether the axe is going to fall. I’m sorry to see NBC’s Bad Judge go, because I found Kate Walsh in the lead very funny. It was a neat script, but I suspect caved in to complaints from the legal profession that it portrayed judges in a bad light. Hey, it’s a comedy, guys!
The Mysteries of Laura, another NBC show and an adaptation of the Spanish drama Los misterios de Laura, has survived. After a brief shaky start, when it didn’t seem to know quite what it was, it quickly settled into a very funny, quirky, feel-good, must-see show, in no small part down to the always compelling Debra Messing as Detective Laura Diamond.
NBC has also saved The Blacklist. I have no idea what is going on anymore, but I could watch James Spader turning up in a hat with no explanation whatsoever for the rest of my life. He is one of my favourite actors of all time.
Raymond “Red” Reddington is a fine creation, and viewers root for him no matter whose brains, or how many brains, he blows out (again, for seemingly no reason whatsoever). All you need to know is that there are a lot of bad people in the world who are afraid of Mr Spader in a hat and he wipes them out in order to help the FBI. 

Oh, yes. And he has some connection to the only officer he will work with, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), whose job it is to stare quizzically at Mr Spader in a hat and save him from the bad people as well. Maybe all we’ll ultimately discover is that she is his milliner and has just been trying to pin him down for a fitting for new head attire.
The Americans will be returning to FX for a fourth season – another must-see show starring Matthew Rhys (fellow Welshman, also – we are coming, people, and are already among you!) and Keri Russell as two Soviet Intelligence agents seemingly living a normal suburban life in the USA as Philip and Elizabeth Jennings.
It’s an extraordinary show (created and produced by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg), with even more twists and turns than Revenge, but all of them totally believable. The wigs bother me a little because, in a dim light, you could be forgiven for thinking you had alighted upon a canine rescue centre. 

It’s hard to concentrate on the sex scenes when Philip is required to sleep with other women when under cover, as I just fear for the poor pooch falling from his head into the woman’s foo foo. How either of them would emerge looking half decent without engaging the help of a topiarist is anybody’s guess.
The jury’s still out on CBS’s The Good Wife, starring Julianna Margulies as lawyer Alicia Florrick, but with slipping viewing figures, I am a little nervous. It’s still a great show, but it hasn’t been the same since the death of Will Gardner (Josh Charles). The Will they/Won’t they get together? that was so central to the plot, was removed in an instant and left a hole they still haven’t quite been able to fill. A bit like . . . No, no jokes, please.
But it still has the extraordinary Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart) and, at its heart, a moral core that, every week (as well as overall), delivers a valuable message without being patronising or preachy.
If, with Revenge, it’s axed, Sunday nights as I know them will be over. I might have to start going to church. Or the pub. 

Funnily enough, the jury’s not out on that score.  


Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Frighteningly Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

A lot of reality TV is staged. I know it, you know it and, most importantly of all, the people taking part know it.
Much of real life reality can be very tedious or, if not tedious, a lot simpler than that featured on TV. Most of us manage to meet with friends without resorting to physical violence, and most of us leave restaurants and bars without breaking anything. We cook, clean, put out the garbage, brush our teeth, take showers – for the most part, we settle into a comfortable routine with our loved ones.
Imagine how boring that would be to watch. So, what reality TV does is extract big (for “big”, read famous, loud, obnoxious – anything out of the ordinary) personalities from the monotony of the everyday and place them in highly charged situations where their differences and conflicts play out for the amusement of the viewer. It’s the bear-pit mentality to which the TV viewing audience has become addicted.
At what point, though, does it cease to be entertainment and become deeply disturbing viewing? For me, that point was this week on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, when Kim Richards appeared to transform into a baying werewolf howling at the moon, when Lisa Rinna apologised very nicely, realising she had inadvertently upset Kim by going into her “business”. “You did,” responded Kim (“Awooooohhhhh! Awooooohhhhh!”).
Kim’s problems with alcohol have been well documented in each series, and now claiming that she has been sober for three years, she is very sensitive to any reference to her behaviour, past or present.
After some very nasty verbal abuse thrown at Lisa R (as opposed to Lisa V, Lisa Vanderpump) in previous episodes – a car journey, a plane ride to Amsterdam – Kim was having none of the apology, despite Lisa explaining that her own sensitivity was down to her having lost her 21 year old sister to alcohol and drugs when she was just six. Attacking Lisa R once more, Kim’s eyes widened demonically, so much so that I feared they were going to swallow the rest of her head whole. 

She then proceeded to lose it completely, attacking both Eileen Davidson and Lisa R (both newcomers to the show this season), and insinuating unpleasantries about Lisa R’s husband, the actor Harry Hamlin. Lisa R, usually the model of decorum, also then lost it, threw wine at Kim, smashed the glass and stormed out. I really didn’t blame her. I respected her for later making up with Kim, but I, for one, would not have been so generous.
Even if she is not drinking, Kim displays all the signs of an out of control addict. I have no doubt that she has struggled with her problems and continues to do so on a daily basis, but there is a real nastiness at the core of her being that I suspect she used alcohol to try to disguise. Without the Dr Jekyll front that the bottle gave her, the Mr Hyde actually has nowhere to hide, and the display in the shop window is not a nice one.
There is real anger here – anger that she can’t drink, probably – and immense jealousy. Kyle Richards, her breathtakingly beautiful sister, is at the brunt of most of it, and the cruelty that Kim displays towards her is unforgivable. It is to Kyle’s credit that she continues to forgive her sister and to try to understand her, but it can’t last, or Kyle will have a breakdown.
So, why would Kim be jealous of her sister? Well, Kyle has a gorgeous husband in Mauricio, four gorgeous kids, a beautiful home, and she recently opened a successful fashion store. She, too, has had her moments of losing it and, like all the other women, has her insecurities and vulnerabilities; but unlike Kim – and Brandi Glanville (I’ll come to her in a minute)  - she and the others do not parade their role as victims of life for the cameras.
It is no surprise that Brandi and Kim have become bosom buddies; neither has anything that the other women have in terms of looks, relationships, or professional success (Brandi did, until a blind surgeon – in my opinion - did her face over). They are the playground bullies, trying to exercise power only by bringing down the people around them, and it’s sad to see.
I enjoyed Brandi when she joined the show, but her extreme behaviour has turned her into a colourless bore and not, as she likes to imagine when she has had too much to drink (way too often), the life and soul of the party.
Both remind me of Stassi Schroeder, one of the key figures of another Bravo show, Vanderpump Rules, set in and around Lisa V’s restaurants. Another bitter, jealous, spiteful piece of work, she too has alienated everyone around her and caused so much trouble amongst Lisa’s staff (the stars of the show), while refusing to admit her own culpability.
And therein lies the problem with Kim, Brandi and Stassi  - all the bad things that have happened to them in life are, as they see it, somebody else’s fault, and that’s what they can’t forgive. I’ll bet that Lisa V, for all her appearing to have it all, has had many sleepless nights during financially challenging times and being stabbed in the back by people she thought were friends. But does she attribute blame? Does she heck.
They don’t call jealousy the green-eyed monster for nothing, but while Kim, Brandi and Stassi feed their insatiable desire for nasty trouble making, they should take some time out and try to realise one basic principle in life: it is you alone who are responsible for your own happiness. 

And if you can’t accept that, then be advised to stay clear of low-flying glass.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Going, Going, Gone Girl - Here's Hoping

Before this week, the last film I saw in a large public cinema (or movie theater as I am now wont to call it – and yes, spelt that way, too; I am SO American these days) was The Hangover (the first one) in Century City in LA.
I bought the biggest burger and drink from the enormous Food Court and relaxed in a seat that was the size of my apartment’s living room.
I then laughed non-stop for the whole movie, as did everyone else. I could not remember a time I had laughed quite so much (well, not unless I counted reading my own columns, anyway). For days afterwards, I was still laughing.
Although, as a member of BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), I receive all movies free for voting purposes, I decided this week to go to the real thing once more. The hype surrounding Girl Gone had been huge, as were the opening weekend sales, and, having loved director David Fincher’s The Social Network, was prepared to be massively impressed.
Just as I did in The Hangover, I cried throughout: not tears of joy, however, but tears of boredom. And then tears of fear – had I been kidnapped and was I being held against my will and, as in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, being subjected to something I would never be able to escape? In Waugh, the victim is the character Tony being held by a Mr Todd, who forces him to read Dickens to him – FOR EVER! In Gone Girl, it is . . . well, what is it? I’ll come to that shortly, but let’s say that my third batch of tears were ones of joy as I finally escaped the darkness, both literally and metaphorically and emerged into the light outside the Lowes movie theatre. 

Never has real life looked or felt so good. I went to Whole Foods and spent half an hour working out what I could have bought there for the $15 I had just wasted at the movies (only three things, as it happened, but still preferable).
For those who have yet to see Gone Girl (and who, heaven forbid, will still want to after reading this?), and who haven’t read the book, I won’t reveal the essentials, but will talk in generalities.
Leaving aside my feeling that Ben Affleck in one of the leads, Nick, is about as underwhelming (to me) as a frozen kipper, it’s a mess of a movie. Rosamund Pike, the other lead, Amy (no fish comparisons intended, by the way), is very good, but it’s impossible to empathise with either character, and if you don’t know who you’re rooting for in a movie, for me it’s over before it’s begun.
The catalyst of the movie, the moment that changes everything and leads it in a different direction, is even more underwhelming than Mr Affleck. It should be a real “WOW! I didn’t see that coming” movie moment, but I’ve had more excitement brushing my teeth, to be honest.
Then there is the issue of Ms Pike’s weight gain within minutes; the cat that never gets fed (yet never loses weight); the reactions of all the key characters to the central plot i.e. the girl that is gone (although, hardly a girl, quite frankly).
The police at the heart of the operation are hopeless; the Sesame Street Cops would have delved more deeply into the evidence. There is way too much repetition, during which we receive the same information, either visually or verbally several times over. The ending is incomprehensible on one essential fact that is supposed to be the other WOW! moment that winds the whole thing up after a staggering 149 minutes. There is not a jot of it that is remotely believable – neither was E.T. literally, but I believed it emotionally – either in terms of plot, characters, or human behaviour. It’s tosh for the masses.
It is as if they changed directors (and, at times, writers) every 15 minutes, never quite getting to grips with what kind of movie they wanted it to be (apart from one that made a lot of money by pulling the wool over the general public’s eyes). The hype surrounding it really is a case of Emperor’s new clothes, and its popularity can only be down to the problem of there being so little out there at the moment – and, in Hollywood, there hasn’t been for some time (though I absolutely LOVED The Hundred-Foot Journey, which I saw in a small private cinema). 

Critics who try to analyse Gone Girl in terms of its post modernism and insight into coupledom are, quite frankly, too fearful of shouting out “The King is in the all together!”

Ms Pike will doubtless receive an Oscar nomination, and the film will make it onto the Best Adapted Screenplay list; but Best Movie? Dear lord, I hope not.
It is, alas, 149 minutes I will never get back. Gone Girl? 

Going, going, gone girl - forever, I hope.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Keeping the Wolf from the Door

Law and Order: SVU. 

I swear that for every one I watch, they have made another six by the time the credits roll. How else would it be possible, every time I turn on my TV, to see yet another SVU marathon and so many episodes that I haven’t seen before?
Last night, I watched the second episode of series 16, which began last week. My DVR hadn’t recorded episode one because Verizon screwed up. I couldn’t watch it On Demand because Verizon screwed up again.
Verizon are ruining my life. I talk to them more often than I talk to my mother. Well, I say “talk”. The only people who appear to be contactable there are the social networking team on Twitter, and they really are very good indeed. The problem is that the people they pass the messages on to are the very people who don’t pick up the phone when you try to reach them by conventional methods. And so you go back to Twitter to name and shame the company into taking action.
I was perfectly happy with Time Warner Cable, but switched when I was assured Verizon were by far the best. Super-duper high speed internet, the ability to record 12 programmes at a time, 200 hours of storage space of HD on the DVR, and 1000 in SD.
To cut a long story short, it’s the slowest internet (and I am on 150/150 for all you techies out there) I have ever had, and my DVR has been swallowing SVU at a faster rate than I can watch it.
It turned out that I had been given the super-duper internet speed (that isn’t), but the bog standard, two programmes at a time, DVR recorders. This, I discovered only when the first episode of SVU clashed with another two recordings, and so never appeared. I turned to On Demand, where, in SD and HD, it was scrambled. Finally, a human has addressed this, but it means losing my collection of stored Judge Alex programmes forever, as the show is no longer on the air. See what I mean, Verizon? RUINING my life!
But back to SVU. I get very confused, because Danny Pino, who has one of the most beautiful mouths in television, is also on old episodes of Cold Case, which is my other addiction. I know he is called Nick in one or the other, but have no idea which, because every time he comes on screen, I just stare at those gorgeous lips (and he doesn’t look like a Nick, anyway. He looks like a . . . well, a Danny, which is just as well). And eyes. He really is incredibly gorgeous. I quite fancy the overweight one, too (I think he’s Cold Case, but don’t take my word on that), who is sexy in a Tony Soprano kind of way.
My real love, though, is Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson in SVU. Now, when I say “love”, I don’t mean it in a “Let’s go on holiday to the island of Lesbos, Mariska” kind of way; I just find her performance utterly compelling and one to which I have become addicted. Hargitay is not only a charismatic, sensitive actor, who knows that less is always more, she possesses a quality that you can’t really pin down, but which I will categorise as the Comfort Blanket Factor.
Every day, when I skip through the “Guide” when I have exhausted the DVR, I will always tune in if SVU is on. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, and much as I say “Right, it’s my last one”, they put that Law and Order logo and voiceover “In the criminal justice system” up so darn quick, I am hooked again before I get even a finger to the remote to change channels. It’s my comfort blanket and I really, really don’t like it when it’s not on.
Dick Wolf, whose name appears at the end of all the Law and Order episodes, is the master of addictive television. I had the privilege of meeting him at a forum in London when the UK version was being made, and he appeared on stage with his leg in plaster. Apparently, he had been for a pedicure and his foot had become infected. It wouldn’t have made a whole episode, but there was something mildly amusing in the knowledge that he has all that genius and money and can’t find a pedicurist who doesn’t have delusions of amputeeism.
Anyway, I watched episode two of this season’s SVU, which was, by accident, incredibly topical, as it involved a sports personality being accused of something he may or may not have done (although that is always a hot topic in the US, as far as I can see). Sex, race, loyalty, truth, justice – all the big themes were there, as they invariably are in the Dick Wolf box of magical tricks. 

I just have to find a way to wean myself off SVU, if only for a day, as I am now an SV of the show itself.
In the meantime, Mariska and Danny, I really do love you both. But I still need some broadcasting methadone to get me off the SVU hard stuff. 

My real life is over unless I find a means to keep Dick Wolf out of my living room.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mistresses - Season Finale or Burial?

Who wears a bra under their pyjamas? And, what’s more, a bra so heavily constructed, it can pass for a couple of errant aircraft hangars.
In the Mistresses season finale, this was the fate of April (Rochelle Aytes) who, having been whisked away to a log cabin for her own safety by ex-FBI agent, Daniel (Ricky Whittle), unbuttoned her pyjama top to reveal all. Having put her daughter to bed, she decided that sleeping with Daniel, who was taking up residence on the couch, was what she wanted after all.
Well, what else was there to do? They had already played Monopoly in front of a roaring fire (when everyone else, not that far away, was suffering intense heat) and watched a film. So there was only sex left. But when that top slipped open, it was hard not to scream, and how Daniel managed to get anywhere near her without resorting to use of a pneumatic drill to break down the bra’s defences, is anybody’s guess.
The bra was soon forgotten because the camera, like viewers, was quickly drawn to the magnificent upper torso of Daniel, a man who appears to have not one shirt to his name – something for which we are all very grateful.
The season finale held high drama for the four friends. Karen (Yunjin Kim) was doing her usual staring into the middle distance while awaiting the results of her HIV test. There was one tiny sign of emotion when a tear rolled down her face, although one suspects that owed more to the power of glycerine from the make-up department. Honestly, I just want to shake the woman in the hope of rattling an expression out of her.
Savi (Alyssa Milano), who is morphing into Kathy Bates, with a wardrobe to match, decided that she wanted ex-husband Harry (Brett Tucker), after all. Well, she’s been through everyone else. Her plan was thwarted when he said that he was completely over her; it will be even more thwarted when she discovers that Harry is down on the beach, romping with her half-sister, Joss (Jes Macallan).
Ah, yes. Joss. The gorgeous, lively, fun-loving Joss, who was supposed to be at her own engagement party that her fiancé, Scott (Justin Scott), decided to turn into a wedding, complete with several hideous frocks for Joss to choose from. She selected a long white satin number, by the way, with a strange kind of neck decoration that made her look as if she was being garrotted.
It might have been a metaphor for how she was feeling, because when Harry turned up, having been drowning his sorrows in a bar, she wasted no time in doing a runner from the ceremony and throwing herself at Harry on the sands, where, we must presume, she had sex while still wearing her wedding dress. Little do they know that Savi, who has gone looking for Lucy (Corinne Massiah), is just feet away.
With a drop in the ratings, I suspect this finale might be the death knell, and we’ll know by the end of the month. I hope it’s re-commissioned, because although it’s nonsense, it’s hugely enjoyable nonsense that is everything great schlock TV ought to be.
Jes Macallan has at least brought some depth to a character list of people who are, for the most part, as deep as a contact a lens; Joss’s transformation from promiscuous party girl to someone upon whom real love has crept unnoticed, has been totally convincing. I confess to shedding a tear when she stood, all sad and Juliet-like on the balcony at the wedding, and stared down at Harry, who had just arrived. It’s a shame his hand was in plaster following his accident, as I suspect that might have hindered their beach activity later on, and which might be the reason why he couldn’t rip that damned dress off.
But then none of the show’s sex scenes have ever been convincing. There is always a hint of passion to come and, of course, Daniel’s bare, beautifully muscled torso (did I mention that?), but nothing to match the rumpy pumpy of Sex and the City’s four female friends. That’s because this is network ABC, not cable and satellite HBO. Heaven forbid that anyone should do anything to frighten the horses – although April’s bra came pretty close, I can tell you.
So, with Paul (Dondre T. Whitfield) dead (again), Lucy vowing never to speak to April after learning Paul wasn’t dead the first time around, and Karen hearing from the doctor that there is “something else”, there is plenty to look forward to in season three.
And if the show’s not picked up? Well, we will just have to invent our own endings. For me, it’ll be that Joss and Harry live happily ever after, Savi stops shopping for jackets at her local Fashion for Yetis store, Karen undergoes ECT in an effort to get her to smile, and April changes her underwear.
And, of course, that Daniel keeps getting his kit off for the girls.