There's lots and lots and LOTS on TV for a square-eyed troll to watch this week. Tonight, for example, we go from the serious (The Battle For Islam, Mon, 9pm BBC2) to the 'not so serious but still thought provoking' (Tottenham Ayatollah Revisited, Mon 8pm C4), to the frivolous (Greatest TV Comedy Moments, Mon 9pm Five), to the frivolous-and-plain-insulting (Bring Your Husband To Heel, Mon 7pm BBC2). Oh yes, and we've heard very good things about Hell's Kitchen USA (Mon 9pm ITV2):
Kitchen, featuring Ramsay's scorching assessments of a crew of aspiring chefs, easily was Fox's hottest hit of the summer to date. Barring a late charge by So You Think You Can Dance [Strictly Come Dancing USA], it ought to still have the title when the mini-season wraps next month.
It's interesting how American TV has embraced UK 'reality' formats: Hell's Kitchen, Strictly Come Dancing, Wife Swap, Brat Camp, Supernanny, Pop Idol ... Some enterprising sociology/media student could get a good essay out of examining why they love 'our' programmes so much. Maybe it's because they're just fucking brilliant shows.
Tottenham Ayatollah Revisited is a re-screening of the marvellous Jon Ronson's 1997 documentary of the same name, with a new introduction from Jon in light of, ah, certain recent events which you might remember. Londonist most certainly loves Ronson's book Them, which features a chapter on Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Tottenham Ayatollah himself, and we appreciate the chance to watch Ronson's footage of him in action (as described in this recent Grauniad article) again. A reminder that "Islamic hate-preachers" (copyright: every right-wing tabloid) are, indeed, living, breathing, eating, feeling, thinking human beings rather than sinister automata, no matter how utterly despicable their goals, can only be a good thing. It's unclear how much of a threat the Tottenham Ayatollah really is, or how closely he was affiliated with the July bombers - if at all - but any illumination of the extremist mindset is, well, illuminating.
Tuesday is looking good, too: there's an intriguing-looking new series (Medium, Tue 11.05pm BBC1) starring Patricia Arquette as a spirit-botherer trying to convince Knacker of the Yard that her abilities can be used for solving crimes. Londonist has always had a soft spot for supernatural drama - RIP Poltergeist: The Legacy - and crime shows (CSI: Miami, Tue 9pm Five; CSI: NY, Tue 10pm Five; Law & Order, Tue 11pm Five), so we'll give this one a go. Sam Delaney mourning the death of eccentricity and individualism in British life (Don't Get Me Started, Tue 7.15pm Five) ought to be far, far more entertaining than Michael Buerk's supremely irritating and ill-informed rant a few weeks ago. Delaney at least has a sense of humour. Oh yes, and a point. We just knew ol' Michael was missing something.
Tuesday's other big débutante is Nighty Night (Tue 10.30pm BBC3), described everywhere as 'darker than the end of the universe, when entropy has run its course and all the stars have died, and there is nothing - not even one microbe - left alive in the cosmos'. This season's opener deals with bestiality and Brazilians - the pubic topiary kind, before you ask. "The series could be described as a West Country version of Fatal Attraction", according to the BBC3 site. It's certainly not every day that you get to watch a comedy whose central character is a serial killer, either. We can't wait. Make time for Wakey Wakey Campers (Tue 9pm C4) beforehand too - last week's episode was a hoot, and this week we're promised a glamorous granny contest.
Thursday's obligatory London programme: Reel London (Thur 7.30pm ITV1), "a new initiative for emerging documentary makers". This week: the glamour of Mitcham's Latin dance dress-making industry. Who knew? Later on are a couple of fine films: Reign Of Fire (Thur 9pm BBC1), where nasty dragons burn things (in London!), and Bringing Out The Dead (Thur 11.35pm ITV1), Scorsese's hallucinatory portrait of a night in the life of a New York emergency medical technician. No dragons, though.
Londonist is, as hinted at in its name, a capital-centric website. No shit. As such, is It's Grim Up North (Fri 10pm BBC2) really, honestly a programme about how the North (we think it's somewhere outside the M25, but we could be wrong) sucks, or is the name somewhat misleading? Given that Alan Titchmarsh is co-presenting with Carol Smillie, it sounds like a no-brainer to us - and lazy TV, too. Let's trot out some clichés about flat caps, Satanic mills, whippets and cobbles, then - WOW! - amaze the viewers with pictures of steel and glass buildings taken at funny angles while some funky house plays in the background, before we segue effortlessly to pictures of a group of young women tossing their glossy hair around as they drink mochaccinos, to show that the North has its fair share of wanky gits too. Revolutionary.
Stereotype overdose time: Saturday is the Last Night Of The Proms (Sat 7.30pm BBC2; 9pm BBC1). Wave your sodding flag and sing, sing, sing - or stick with ITV for X Factor (Sat 6pm ITV1) then ITV 50: ITV's 50 Greatest Shows (Sat 7pm ITV1). Will Celebrity Love Island make the Top Ten?
Last few random picks: The Truth About Trinny And Susannah (that they're actually shareholders in firms that make "tummy-sucking" knickers? - Fri 9pm Five); 20,000 Streets Under The Sky (lush, bleak costume drama, based on the book by Patrick Hamilton, set in our fair city - Fri 9pm BBC2); The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest For The Best (a philosophy he obviously didn't follow when choosing people to run Virgin Trains - Fri 8.30pm ITV2); London's Designer Homes: The Self-Build Phenomenon (can you buy a flat-pack house from Ikea yet, 'cos we aren't interested if not - Tue 7.30pm ITV1); and Smarter Than Your Kids? (parents and children sit the same GCSEs - cue lots of "it weren't like this in my day" comment - Wed 9pm ITV1). And, naturally, Lost (Wed 10pm C4) - you didn't think we'd forgotten, did you? There's some programme called Arrested Development (Sun 11.15pm BBC2) that a particularly determined Londonist reader is adamant deserves a mention too, so if it isn't your glass of Pouilly-Fumé, tough.
That ought to keep you busy. But why the picture of the best game ever that adorns this column? Because it's nerdgasm time on Thursday when Tetris: From Russia With Love is on (Thur 11.20pm BBC2). Documenting the torturous and tortuous history of the Russian blockbuster, prepare to be amazed as you discover that Alexei Pajitnov (whom Londonist always pictured as looking like Ilya Kuryakin, but wearing a big furry hat) hardly made any money from his fantastically addictive game. Anyone for a head-to-head Tetris battle? As Mr T would say, "I pity the fool". Come and have a go if you think you're old-skool enough.