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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Weatherfield and Tonga

Coronation Street (ITV)
Jonah From Tonga (BBC)

I was going to start this post by saying that, due to reasons, I never get to watch things when they're actually aired, I always watch them on catch-up. But then I realised that everyone watches lots of things on catch-up all the time, not just temporarily expatriated people.

Talking of which, I am very much enjoying my new subscription to ITV Essentials. For a few quid a month I get all the Corrie episodes on demand, without adverts. It's amazing. I also get Emmerdale (which I haven't seen for years and need to get back into), Loose Women (I do like some of the regulars so will give it a go) and Jeremy Kyle (no chance. He does not deserve my eyes). Expat interests in a nutshell, according to ITV's research. Who am I to argue?

I just watched both of last night's Corries, and am feeling really sad for Carla. She's brilliant, Peter is a mess, and Tina just needs to drop dead (seriously, when will this happen?!). The scene where Carla ended up at the baby scan alone was heartbreaking, and the final scene of the episode where she confronted Peter about not turning up was really well-written and well-performed. 

Meanwhile, Beth's popped off to Latvia for a boob job. Not sure where this storyline's  going. Is she going to run off with a Baltic hunk? Or even better, bring one back (like Deirdre did with Samir)? I quite like Beth, but she's no Cilla. Everyone in her household is a walking yawn apart from her though, so I hope she comes back soon. 

Other recent Corrie thoughts: I'm becoming a big fan of Tim. I love him telling Sally off for being a snob, and I love Sally sort of trying to be nice to Maddie. Todd's become awful in ways I can't get my head around, Steph's brilliant (and I look forward to her inevitable sleuthing once Tina finally dies), and for reasons I still can't put my finger on, I fancy Nick Tilsley. Send help (or a day pass for the Weatherfield Wayfarer, so I can go and get it out of my system).

I'm really enjoying the Lloyd and Andrea storyline, and I hope Andrea's mysterious life turns out to be a good kind of mystery. Maybe she has twin orphaned nephews to care for, or an ageing parent. I wonder what will become of the love square that is her, Lloyd, Steve, and Michelle though. Maybe (hopefully) it'll all kick off in spectacular style.

I do watch TV other than Corrie, by the way. This evening I have also seen the first episode of Jonah from Tonga. I'm a big (big! Massive!) fan of Summer Heights High, to an almost evangelical level (there was not a student I taught during my last year in Argentina who hadn't seen at least one episode of that show). Summer Heights High is actually on my list of the top five TV shows ever (ever!), with We Can Be Heroes (its never-aired-in-the-UK predecessor) probably in the top ten. Chris Lilley has an eye for detail and an ear for language which makes SHH incessantly watchable, brilliantly funny, and incredibly touching. I must have seen every episode ten times and could happily sit and watch them again right now.

Since SHH though, I haven't enjoyed Lilley's other shows anywhere near as much. Doubtless producers/networks have had an influence, as they rightly should, and it seems now that the target audience for his work is much younger. I gave up on Angry Boys after a few episodes, and couldn't get past the first twenty minutes of the recent Ja'mie: Private School Girl, despite having loved her (very well-observed) character in both SHH and WCBH (apologies for the initialisations, I'm writing this on my phone). It seems Lilley's shows now aim for immediate, big laughs, whereas what I enjoyed about his earlier work were its subtle, slow-building qualities and complex characters. And having worked for a long time in education I maintain that SHH is the most realistic school drama I have ever seen. 

But anyway, back to Jonah from Tonga. It is pretty good! More new characters, which helps, and I get the idea that the first episode is setting the foundations for some interesting storylines in later episodes. I wasn't entirely convinced though, until just a few minutes before the end, in a scene showing Jonah at home. I won't spoil anything if you haven't seen it yet, but it was very touching and engaging. Who knows, the series may yet build to the emotionally-charged ending of Summer Heights High, which had me crying massive hot tears the first time I saw it, and has still made me weep on every subsequent occasion.

Chris Lilley is incredibly talented. It's not his fault I'm not a teenager, I suppose. I'd love to see him do something more like his earlier work, but perhaps the demand (or money) isn't there.

His acting is amazing though; the way he portrays characters of different ages, sexes and cultures is incredible. We Can Be Heroes is the best place to see him do that. Buy it! It's really ace.

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