BUSHELL ON THE BOX
*This is an edited version of my TV column. The real thing, plus contests, goofs, lookalike pictures and more, can be found each Sunday only in the Daily Star Sunday.
March 7. ONE big problem with McDonald & Dodds is that they don’t feel like coppers. Dodds is more like what would happen if a mad scientist animated a Care Bear after pumping it full of train-spotter DNA. The show returned with a hot-air balloon murder. Sadly, most of the over-heated gas was in the script. Four 80s faces were living in luxury Bath apartments. Martin Kemp was music mogul Mick, Patsy Kensit was Botoxed Barbara, Rupert Graves played Peter York style snob Gordon, and Cathy Tyson was writer Jackie. Mick laid on a surprise last-minute balloon trip for them involving the worst CGI since Vanity Fair. Gate-crasher Frankie – who’d been blackmailing them for decades – plummeted to his doom. A deserving fall-guy. Enter Ray, an air accident investigator played by Rob Brydon as Dodds’s nit-picking double.
Except the harmless anorak turned out to be the real killer, out for revenge over the murder of his childhood pal. But how did he know about the balloon trip? Or that Mick had weights at home for him to pinch? How did he know Frankie would gate-crash their ride? Instead of his improbably complex murder plan, why didn’t he just nobble the balloon and take out all five of them? And if he’d grown up on RAF bases in Germany why the West Country accent? The script had more plot holes than Lebanon has pot holes, along with the obligatory dig at Thatcher (the famous four were driven by Yuppie greed). It isn’t enough to be convoluted and quirky, it has to be clever and credible too. McDonald & Dodds is to Midsomer Murders what Tipping Point is to Only Connect. It’s less Death In Paradise, more Dull In Somerset. Gentle escapism? Maybe, but I’d rather tuck into a McDonald’s and fries. On the plus side, Bath looks lovely.
*IF we’re going to conjure up unlikely cop fantasies, how about a Dirty Harry-style hero who bangs up bad guys and isn’t as bent as Uri Geller’s cutlery?
WELL done the near-naked artists on Drawers Off. It takes balls to go on national TV and show off your miniatures. They say great art is in the eye of the beer-holder, and you certainly needed to sink a few to appreciate Sarah’s frantic “expressive” work. She drew Shevon’s head so small the poor woman could have been on loan from Beetlejuice. Poor Shevon. Sara turned her into an older, chunkier cavewoman; Will’s version was an oddly-shaped cartoon. Shevon’s slow “Okay... ” verdict spoke volumes. I liked Glyn’s tattoo-inspired work, but they can all take comfort from knowing that they weren’t as bad as they were painted.
ON Stand Up & Deliver, “comedy mentor” David Baddiel’s only strategy was to try and get Rev Richard Coles to swear. Specifically, to say “Jesus, can I f***!” Yawn. Shaun Ryder needed no encouragement. “You’re going to be laughing your bollocks off,” he said in rehearsal. “Not because I’m funny but because I’ve spiked your f***ing drinks.” Away from his clumsy cue cards, Shaun was hilarious. I’d pay to hear an hour of his earthy anecdotes. But in the event, it was Baroness Warsi – formerly co-chairwoman of the Conservative Party – who stormed to victory. She did this largely by attacking the Tories and dropping the F-bomb – and she hadn’t even seen Rishi’s budget at the time. Yeah, see – right-of-centre folk can make it in modern TV comedy... just as long as they toe the approved line. Next, how about booking someone genuinely funny to mentor the mentors?
*REV Coles at his rudest: “I really like genital acts. I saw them support the Clash in 1977.”
HOT on TV: Paloma Faith, Pennyworth (Starzplay)... The Terror... Bill Burr: Paper Tiger (Netflix)... Deutschland 89.
ROT on TV: Your Honor – poorly judged... McDonald & Dodds – largely duds... David Baddiel, Stand Up & Deliver – a bad deal all round.
THE Terror adds supernatural horror to the true story of a doomed 1845 Arctic expedition – the crew of two British ships are stalked by a monster called the Tuunbaq (think Hornblower meets Steven King). If only they had turned back... It’s well-cast and atmospheric, a nightmare in ten parts, but it’s still not as weird as the Marcella finale which was so far beyond bonkers I can only assume Hans Rosenfeldt wrote it for a bet.
*A KILLER twist on Bloodlands as heroic cop Tom Brannick gunned down an innocent unarmed man. So is Tom mystery psychopath Goliath? Is his wife actually alive? Why is Tori, daughter of one of the victims, getting close to him? It’s so baffling I had to Goliath down.
*THE easy way for cops to discover Goliath’s identity: just ask around town who’s been buying up postcards of that giant crane.
*AFTER The Muppets and Dr Seuss, can it be long before the PC axe falls on the Trumpton firemen for lack of workplace diversity? And what about those Flowerpot Men? Where are the flowerpot women? Sexist bastards.
*MEL Giedroyc: Unforgivable. Mel & Sue? Just Unwatchable.
Small Joys of TV: Bill Maher’s cancel culture rant. Drawers Off using the Vision On music. Life In Colour. After Henry re-runs (Forces TV). Laia Costa, Devils. The Many Faces of Ronnie Barker.
Random Irritations: BBC dimwits censoring Fawlty Towers, one of our most sublime sitcoms. Too much soap in police dramas. Way too much rabbit on Britain’s Favourite 80s Songs.
SEPARATED at birth: Jonathan Ross and Mr Noseybonk. One an ancient TV grotesque who terrified small children, and so’s the other one.