Someone in the TV world really hates January. Why? Because to compensate for the month’s grey, fuzzy, badly photocopied feel, they’ve decided to brighten it up with yet MORE imported US screen candy. Yes, Prison Break (Mon 10pm Five) is finally here – exciting, macho, and dumber than a barrelful of rocks, according to Charlie Brooker. It’s got thrills, spills, tattoos of prison blueprints (er, whatever) and lots of muscular men looking moody. Will it have slow-motion walking across a prison yard complete with heat shimmers? We can but wait, and hope. The plot, such as it is, involves a man getting put deliberately into prison in order to break out with his brother, who has been framed for the murder of somebody close to the US administration; so not only is Prison Break an Arnie movie-style plot spread out over a series, it’s also a conspiracy theory show. We’re betting it doesn’t have anything to do with the Mayan calendar, though.
Also on tonight is Supernatural (Mon 11pm ITV1). TV Troll has a confession to make: the trailers, and the posters for this show that are plastered all over the sodding Tube, have been really getting up our nose. Great, wonderful, yet more pictures of mostly-naked women (with oh-so-tasteful Dax-from-DS9-style scaly bits, as opposed to can’t-be-arsed-to-exfoliate scaly bits) draped all over the place, as if there weren’t enough of them already. We’re so thoroughly turned off by the whole campaign that it’s made us resolve not to watch the bloody show (anyone who has watched it, please feel free to comment, or to go out and buy some reptile-woman body paint, or whatever takes your fancy). Anyway, it took us several days’-worth of commute to work out that Supernatural is a TV show, and not a new perfume by Paris Hilton, or some other evil blue-skinned reptilian life-form.
Adoption: it’s a tough subject to deal with on TV, given the depth of feeling involved in the ‘typical’ case. How much more sensitive are the cases when the adopted child is not just from a different family, but from an entirely different culture? Baby Be Mine: Journey Of Love (Wed 9pm BBC1) looks at “three very different tales of adoption”, of children from China, Siberia and Romania. There’s a queasy moral dimension to all this: not to ignore the anguish of childless parents, and the hugely improved life opportunities available to the typical Western child, there is a whiff of neo-imperialism to the tales of first-worlders who trek to the East to find a baby. Having stripped the developing world of its natural resources and its mineral wealth and its oil, are we now stripping it of its children? But then, what is to be done in countries where an extra mouth to feed is an intolerable burden, rather than a longed-for luxury? We don’t know, and we hope the programme will tackle some of these questions.
The rightly lauded Who Do You Think You Are? (Wed 9pm BBC2) looks at Stephen Fry’s family past this week, and if Fry is as witty and articulate on this as he is on every other TV show he’s done, ever – he’s the uncle we all wish was part of our family – we’re convinced it’ll be great. There’s another examination of an uncomfortable past in the clumsily named Munich: Operation Bayonet – This World (Tue 11.20pm BBC2), as the story of the terrorist attack at the ’72 Olympics, and subsequent Mossad man-hunt, is examined ahead of the release of Steven Spielberg’s new film on the topic, Munich.
Two of last week’s new arrivals – Hotel Babylon (Thur 9pm BBC1) and The Eleventh Hour (Thur 9pm ITV1) – get second outings this week, and let’s hope they’re better than their pilots. The Eleventh Hour was bearable; the plot just failed to grab in the way we’d've liked. This week’s impending doom is a “devastating virus” (where have we heard that one before?), and admit it: you’d feel better about the prospect of an outbreak of avian flu if you knew Patrick Stewart was on the case. Hotel Babylon, however, was utter crap. Omnipresent music of the kind found in only the twattiest bars was but one of the things about this smug, unpleasant, stereotyped ‘drama’ that we didn’t like. It wasn’t even good at being trashy, and felt curiously prim for all its supposedly sleazy setting; even frequent cutaways to night scenes in our beloved city couldn’t make up for the lack of heart, and the surfeit of Dexter Fletcher. We’d rather have watched Max Beesley’s magnum opus Glitter again, and that’s saying something.
Anyone up for a bit of vote-spamming? The So Far Up Its Own Arse It’s Not Even Funny Culture Show (Thur 7pm BBC2) is launching a competition to find its viewers’ favourite piece of British design – “from the Mini to the mini-skirt, from Concorde and the Spitfire to the cat’s eye”. Well, they all sound a bit poncy. Let’s all vote for Bluewater, or the Queen’s hair, or the Sainsbury’s in Camden instead. Or even Cindy Jackson (Trading Faces: The Cindy Jackson Story, Thur 11pm Five) – she may not be British-born, but she lives here, so we can claim her. The tale of her transformation from midwestern plain Jane to ageless, plasticised Barbie-lookalike should be worth a look.
OK, contrary to editorial opinion, TV Troll is not going to do more than skim over the whole lycra incident; we respect (ha, ha) your peace of mind far too much for that. Except. Oh, god. The pictures. If only we could scour clean our mind’s eye. Damn you, George! Eviction will be too good for you.