Okay, I am very late to the party of Mr Robot. I must confess, I hadn't even seen any reviews about it. Ashamed to say I stumbled upon it by chance, as my son was going to watch it. I am now engrossed. Half way through the four seasons. It is about a young man involved in cyber-crime, but it's so much more than that. Big business controlling us, government in bed, what society means, the fragility of society right now. You name it. It feels prescient, much more than just entertainment. It takes you into a world which you might already be feeling you co-exist in, and makes you feel very uncomfortable.
I had already seen, like most, Rami Malek in the Queen film Bohemian Rhapsody for which he deservedly won an Oscar for best male lead. It isn't just that he is captivatingly good, which he is, it is everything about the support cast Christian Slater, Grace Gummer, BD Wong and so many other great performances. Writer Sam Esmail wrote, directed and produced the show. Hats off to having made something so special and multi-award winning. Can't wait to watch the next thing he's done.
I have just finished watching Fawlty Towers with the family. I hadn't seen it since I was a teenager. I don't know why. There are only 12 episodes. Perhaps I thought it had dated, or wouldn't be as good the second time around. Maybe I was fearful of ruining something I had enjoyed so much the first time. Second times aren't always as good.
But, I was listening to Ricky Gervais on one of his Live Twitter feed chats, and he mentioned it was one of his all-time favourites, up there with Curb Your Enthusiasm (which is my favourite show of all time). So, I thought I would suggest we watch it at home – the family together.
Boy, it is so funny – my personal favourite episode is the 'dead man' ep - will say no more. We were laughing out loud through every episode. It is rare with some comedy shows these days. There is a lot of ‘clever’ comedy that isn’t farce, but more of a first-person insight into ‘a truth that matters and I'm going to make you feel you don't belong to the world', where you are asked to follow real-ish people in their everyday lives and get a deeper insight into it. Of course, there is a place for all comedy. I’m not knocking it. Comedy is so subjective too. Although, I’m not mad on being ‘educated’, which I feel like I am with this kind of comedy. I’m old enough to know that comedy comes in waves or trends. I am old enough to remember Steptoe and Son. Ahem.
For me, there is nothing like a bit of pure escapism and unreality when you’re living through a pandemic. Stuff like Friends, Frasier, Curb Your Enthusiasm, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Black Books, Alan Partridge, The Fast Show, Harry and Paul, French and Saunders, AbFab, where farce or silliness prevails. Or, Butterflies, The Good Life, shows that are gentle when you really need something with no sharp edges. Fawlty Towers is definitely back on my list.
Staged - BBC Drama
I binge-watched Staged today, a BBC production. What else is there to do? Still in lockdown. Days melting into each other. I wasn’t expecting much. First, having spent the past fifty years watching television, I like to think I have high expectations (even if I choose to watch trash sometimes). Second, having sat across many 'overly chirpy' video conference meetings these past months, I definitely have video-conference fatigue. So, who wants to watch a drama about that? Third, the first tranche of lockdown entertainment via video online on TV was dire. Chat shows, music 24-hour gigs. Switched them all off. So, with expectations lower than the drains I tuned in. Living in hope. Well, it was David Tennant and Michael Sheen after all. And, I’m glad I did.
Two actors whose West End play has been put on hold by the pandemic, but whose director has persuaded them to carry on rehearsing online. It is currently available on the iPlayer. It wasn't so much the premise as the delivery that kept me hooked. Both characters – playing a heightened version of themselves – gave the full range of emotions the lockdown have elicited in many. Boredom, despair, guilt, tetchiness, grumpiness, sarcasm, mania, and finally kindness and compassion. At last, to watch a David Tennant's perfect bored face looking back, or Michael Sheen’s cantankerous and belligerent response. What a script, presumably with some improvisation. Funny, light, quick paced, current, nailed it. I was there. It reflects the zeitgeist. Is real. Watch it. You won’t be disappointed.