tv dinners

watercooler chat about what’s on TV and what you had for dinner last night

Archive for January 2008

The weekend that was

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The One and Only

Carrie and David Grant are back. They must be great friends with one of the Programming Directors at BBC, landing another singing reality show, this time a complete remake of Stars in their Eyes, with an added audience vote. The ‘twist’ is that the other impersonators vote to save one from the bottom two, hmm what does that remind you of? Fame Academy, what a coincidence. Graham Norton can’t save this – infact, maybe Stars in their Eyes wouldn’t even work today, now that everyone and their dog can get a hit single out of Naff factor, the quaint enthusiasm of those contestants is nowhere to be seen.

10 things you didn’t know about…Tsunamis

Dr Iain Stewart, of the series ‘Earth, power of the planet’ fame is back on BBC4 doing a 3 part cable-feel’Earth, power of the planet’ top 10 series.

When graphics were used to show how these massive waves form and move, or their causes – eg subaqua tectonic activity – the shift in the sea floor from the meagquake responsible for the Boxing Day tsunami that created two huge cliffs – then the show was truly interesting.

The rest of it was filler, as is any top 10, the worst of these number 3, the mysterious Hindu temples that apparently were seen just before the Boxing Day tsunami struck the Indian coast, then were covered again in water, forever. This just doesn’t make sense – why can’t we scan the surface for the pyramid shaped temples? Why can’t we see them? How is it scientists can find the exact point where the megaquake occurred but can’t find huge structures only a few kilometres off shore? I feel cheated.


Well you should be watching this brilliant drama already, but incase you aren’t, start now. This outstrips the prime time BBC detective/drama on offer by a mile, but as is the BBC’s wont, they don’t like to show American series on BBC1 until after 10, then half way through the run will probably change the timeslot, or make it even later.

Glenn Close and Ted Danson are dangerous characters, one manipulative lawyer, one corporate thief, they both play with the lives of anyone involved in trying the case against Arthur Frobisher (Danson). No mercy makes for a great storyline and frankly, makes Monday less depressing. Roll on 10.30pm.

You can catch up on old episodes with

Harry Hill’s TV Burp

Hmm after watching the last two episodes I’m afraid, The Soup, on E! is still better. The jokes are more adult and actually mock our popular culture as it is in 2008.

Harry Hill himself is funny, but the genuinely clever clip leadins are the best thing about the show, the food fights and other lame jingles have no momentum, why not just bring back Shark Infested Custard and do a kids version instead?

Harry is so in with the shows he’s ‘mocking’ that he can get the Bill, Richard and Judy, Emmerdale actors to get in on the jokes. This doesn’t sit well and means Harry gets carried away with elaborate jokes that aren’t as funny as three more quick fire clips would be. I’m sure there’s enough material on ITV and 4 without the insider edition, but hey, maybe Harry just wants everyone to like him.

Written by Victoria

January 28, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Posted in TV

The Soup

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Even if you don’t get the E! channel there’s now no excuse. The Soup, America’s best cynical cheap shot at reality and celebrity TV is now online each week.

It used to be called Talk Soup in the early 90’s when I watched it and was hosted by Greg Kinnear, who went on to get an Oscar nomination for As Good as it Gets and more recently, from Little Miss Sunshine. Then it focussed more on the chat shows, Jerry Springer etc.

The Soup, however, is at the zenith of weird (reality) TV programming and there’s so much crap and hilarity in pop culture at the moment that Joel McHale, the presenter and co-writer deliver a weekly show worth taping or tracking down – which you wouldn’t really think was a goer. E! tried to do a UK version in 2006 with Iain Lee, which was awful as he has none of McHale’s charm and EastEnder clips can’t really compete with Brett Michael’s Rock of Love for material.

From Whitney Houston’s “Kiss my ass” (the Hey Jude of clips), to the cancelled Viva Laughlin, the show loved by hundreds, to coverage of the Beckhams, Oprah’s Va-Jay-Jay, What your boyfriend is looking at, Iron Chef America and Chat Stew.

It’s on E! every Saturday night. But go now to see best of and recent clips on the E! site or a condensed version on Yahoo! – it’s all exclamation points!

Written by Victoria

January 22, 2008 at 12:35 am

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Marry Jamie, Boff Gordon and Kill Hugh

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Maybe I’m just crabby from staying up too late last night playing Marry, Boff or Kill? but I am sooo sick of the rubbish Guardian coverage on Jamie Oliver’s Fowl Dinners and Hugh’s Chicken Run.

Today Zoe William’s article has more moaning about Jamie and HughFW being rich, therefore not allowed to comment on the welfare of animals. I don’t understand how their wealth is even relevant, as the purpose of their shows is to try and educate the general public who may or may not know what exactly the 2 for £5 chicken endures.

They’re not asking them to buy basmati rice – they’re saying – we want you to know why this meat is so cheap. These animals are not being treated humanely and give farmers in this country a bad deal.

It’s amazing how touchy the media, especially the Guardian is – we’ve also had Jay Rayner moaning that HFW suggested people on low incomes buy braising steak, comparing it to Marie Antoinette’s let them eat cake, which is ridiculous snobbery in itself – stews are a great cheap nutritious option.

Ms Williams doesn’t even seem convinced by her own argument, maybe a bit put out that she’s last to comment on chickens this week instead.

Written by Victoria

January 16, 2008 at 3:27 pm

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I ♥ Liverpool

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Can’t believe I missed the pilot of Damages, I only saw the last 30 minutes of the second episode, Jesus, Mary and Joe Cocker last night after switching to watch the Liverpool Culture Show special..

Damages has won big critical praise in the US and stars Glenn Close and Ted Danson plus that guy who played Joshua, Rachel’s love interest from Friends who was scared of ducks. If like me, you’ve missed it, you’ve got 4 more days to watch the pilot at BBC’s iplayer site. What I saw last night was great and reminded me of Murder One, so watch it before Thursday!

The Culture Show Liverpool 08 special was good because it showed highlights of Friday’s opening event, with Ringo singing to thousands of people in the cold – Liverpool is absolutely ready to go and Pete Wylie is right, it doesn’t matter what the arts organisations or the council says – 2008 will be about Liverpudlians playing host to a great party. The commentary on the admittedly slightly shambolic lead up to the year, including Miranda Sawyer bemoaning the “disgrace” and patronising a whole city a la we gave it a chance to become great again seems symptomatic of the media coverage in general, which is dissappointing. If any other city had won, the coverage would be positive – for Liverpool, the coverage has to be ‘balanced’ with snide comments and stereotypes. It’s painful. The mayor’s right though – anyone who comes to Liverpool this year will see the richness and diversity it has to offer to any visitor and realise Liverpool won on it’s merits.

Written by Victoria

January 14, 2008 at 4:15 pm

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BBC4’s How Pop Songs Work was part strange music lesson, part normal tv show. Charles Hazlewood clunked his piano keys through melody, lyrics, structure and arrangement, singing along to his favourites, ABBA, Amy Winehouse, Joni Mitchell, in a suprisingly out of tune manner.

Charles has a habit of hunching his neck to look straight into the camera, down the line of piano keys, which makes you feel like you’re sitting on the floor somehow. Halfway through the show the director obviously picked up on this and starts filming him in profile, talking to another camera, which was a relief.

I hate to harp on, but when he finishes re-enacting songs on the piano he reminds us of where we are in the song breakdown “Remember! Anywhere the wind blows” “Remember! Black”. This insistent remembering was just plain annoying.

The normal part of the show consisted of Martin Fry and John Harris waxing lyrical, sorry, about their favourite songs and what makes a success. John Harris got animated about Dire Strait’s Romeo & Juliet, Charles went crazy about Wyclef Jean (doing some strange shoulder shrug dancing to show how into it he is – again the teacher’s trying to be cool) and Phil bloody Jupitus yakked on about Lily Allen.

Adding to the shows akwardness, the editing was wonderful, “most pop singers have a tiny range” cue Madonna the first of many put downs and weird commentary, “that’s a dirty note”, “that’s a leading chord if ever I’ve heard one”. BBC4 is made for music TV, but not this strange celebrity chef recipe of pop – they should just stick to high brow and leave the 100 best choruses to Channel 4 or E!

The finale of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstone’s Chicken Run aired last night – I actually managed to watch the chickens being slaughtered – it did look humane. 60% of whole chickens sold that week in Axminster were free range so I suppose the series was a success of sorts but in Hugh’s interview with Waitrose’s Buying managers, who already stock 50% free range poultry, they admitted that until the consumer demand for free range was there – nothing would change. So it’s up to you.

Written by Victoria

January 10, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Posted in TV

Not cheep?

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When I did journalism at school, I wrote an article about battery farming and two things happened.

1 – I borrowed a SAFE (Save Animals from Exploitation) video about pig farming that I kept for soo long I was embarassed to give it back, and

2 – I didn’t eat chicken or pork for 2 years

Regardless of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or Jamie Oliver – when you discuss battery farming you’re talking animal welfare. To me, what sets us apart from being just carnivores, is the concept of mercy and our higher intelligence. We are capable of treating any animal with respect and we know that their nerve system is as highly evolved as ours – they feel pain.

So why does the average consumer not question the £2 chicken? I understand being poor, you need to make money for food stretch but no-one is forcing you to eat antibiotic ridden, 39 day old chicken. If you can’t afford free range chicken, don’t buy any. Why condone such barbaric farming practises?

I always buy free range – I just buy less. For example, you can get two free range chicken breasts for £3 from Tesco or Sainsbury or ASDA and make enough curry for 3 or 4 if you add some potatoe or other veg in. Buy a small free range whole chicken from £5 and make it last – you can portion the chicken yourself really easily with a good knife, or simply roast it then boil the carcass with carrot, celery, bay leaf and peppercorns for a light stock – use that to make nice risotto, soup or stew.

Hugh’s Chicken Run (on again tonight on 4) and Jamie’s Fowl Dinners on Friday have already started the debate – hopefully more people will try free range and stop the demand for badly treated poultry.

20-minute free range chicken curry

Serves 2-4

2 small free range chicken breasts (skin off).

half an onion

one clove garlic

1 small potatoe

1 small sweet potatoe (try kumara, the NZ sweet potatoe)

1 can reduced fat coconut milk

Pataks Korma paste

Cardomom pods and a cinnamon stick

Lemon juice

Freshly ground pepper

Handful of fresh coriander

300 – 500ml Greek or natural yoghurt

Dried mint

75g per person of basmati or brown rice.

Curry & rice If you’re using brown rice, put the kettle on and get the rice started – it will take 20 minutes – set a timer. Add 3 cardomom pods to the water. If you go for basmati – this will only take 10 minutes. Drain the rice after the time is up, back into the pot and leave the lid on so it steams and gets more fluffy.

Chop the onion and half the garlic clove really finely. Add a spoon of olive or sunflower oil to a wok or large frying pan and start cooking the onion, stirring occasionally to avoid it browning – you want it to be transluscent and soft.

Again add 3 cardomom pods and half a cinnamon stick. If you don’t have these – don’t worry.

Chop the chicken into small chunks and peel the potatoes and chop into small chunks too. Add them to the onion and fry for 2 minutes.

Add a heaped dessert spoon of korma paste and stir into the chicken and potatoe – fry for a further minute, then add in the coconut milk, lots of pepper and lemon juice too (at least quarter of a lemon).

Simmer the curry (medium heat, not too vigorous) for the remainder of the rice cooking time. If you want to add peas or brocolli etc add them at the end of the cooking time.

Raita While the curry and rice cook, chop the cucumber (about a 10cm length). Peel it first if you prefer it like that. Mix the cucumber with all but 2 spoonfuls of the yoghurt in a bowl. Add pepper and more lemon juice and a teaspoon of dried mint. Mix together and set aside.

If you’ve got naan or popadom – heat them just before you drain the rice (remove the cardomom pods).

To finish Add the reserved yoghurt to the curry and remove the cardomom pods and cinnamon sticks (they usually float to the surface).

Add half the chopped coriander to the curry. Turn off the heat once you add the yoghurt. NB if you want to thicken the curry, add a couple of spoons of ground almonds.

TV Dinner tonight – Organic rump steak with minted salad potatoes, some homemade hollandaise sauce and green beans.

Written by Victoria

January 8, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Recipes, TV

2007 tv.

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Well you may think it’s too late to be raking over the dimming glow of the TV in 2007, but I’ve been on holiday, and finally caught up on my Sky+, so here it is. I’m not going to talk up the big hitters, Heroes, Lost and the shows I’ve already talked up, Flight of the Conchords, Californication, The Street.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Well what happened? Aaron Sorkin’s highly anticipated show burned out of the ratings game in the US so was cancelled before it even got to the UK, hence setting up home on More4. The pilot was perfect – so you can see what the hype was about. Where can you go after such a high though? The series charts Danny Tripp (West Wing’s Bradley Whitford) and Matt Albie (Matthew Perry) – the producer and writer who quit the hit show several years earlier over a contentious skit aimed at Dubya in 2001. New network head Jordan McDeare (Amanda Peet – who isn’t annoying in this) hires them back after the live Studio 60 show is interrupted by a tirade on the state of television from Judd Hirsch from Taxi, which is straight out of Network, but better.

So the show follows Danny & Mark and Jordan’s fight to gain ratings and scratch back some integrity. Like the pilot, they start off well but then the novelty wears off and the onscreen Studio 60 starts it’s (unknowing) tandem ride with the offscreen ratings..

The show has been criticised for it’s pompous take on religion and the war on Afghanistan and Iraq but I really don’t see this as a problem. The arguments are balanced; the love story between Harriet Hayes, a devout Christian and Matt, who despises the climate of fear in the US fostered by the christian right, republicans and advertisers isn’t given a resolution of sorts until the final episode. Other love interests, propfessional compromises and the impact of the current war are all touched on and it’s a really effective drama, which shouldn’t have been axed.

Asides – Harriet’s character is based on Kristin Chenoweth, from the West Wing, who Sorkin previously dated. Watch out too for Lucy Davis (Dawn from the UK’s The Office) is awful in this show, stuttering and constantly wide eyed, it’s like she’s doing a hideous impression of Hugh Grant.

30 Rock

“Thank you Jack Donaghy, I’m going to make you a mix tape. Do you like Phil Collins?”

“I have a heart and two ears, don’t I?”

This show started off as the Alec Baldwin show and has now turned into something unmissable. Tina Fey (Saturday Night Live) plays Liz Lemon, head writer, juggling well meaning but bizarre network boss Baldwin and the insecurities of the stars of the their show Tracy and Jenna (Jane Krakowski from Ally McBeal).

The second show dealing with the behind the scenes hijinks of a TV show – 30Rock rated ok, but won an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy and will be back for a second season. The first season continues on Thursday 10 January on Five. Watch it!

The Lost Room

Peter Krause and Julianna Margulies are time travelling in this brilliant mini series. Based around Krause’s missing daughter – I can’t give too much away – the series is to do with time travel and a set of objects that give whoever possesses them a certain power – sounds very Heroes, and you’ll love it if you’re a Heroes fan – but it’s unique and well worth buying, or catching a repeat on SkyOne.

Please vote for me

Charming Chinese documentary of 8 years olds electing a new Class monitor, amazing little characters and an honest depiction of democracy and human nature. Part of BBCs Storyville series.

The Thick of It specials

Bring it back! Last years Christmas specials have been replayed in our house so often I swear they’re 2007 fodder. The specials worked well without recently convicted Langham and surely 2007’s political rollercoaster will inspire Iannucci again.

The Apprentice

Although the final was dissappointing (isn’t it always?), the series had some good characters – who’ll forget Tres or Katie in a hurry? I want to see more of Nick and Margaret though, and less of the bearded chipmunk that is Alan Sugar.

Off the boiler…

Have I got news for you – well maybe but more likely Paul Merton is doing his ‘how do you do?’ joke again.

ER – I’ve always been squeamish so the ongoing drama has to cut the mustard for me to keep watching, and whilst I’m thrilled Abby & Luka are together and John Stamos is staying at County General, the show just didn’t work so well at the end of the last series, see Neela being trampled, hmmm. It’s starting back on E4 this month so here’s hoping Stanley Tucci can work some magic.

Written by Victoria

January 8, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Posted in TV