Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Downton and other TV Blues

The Black Bull at Matfen
Like 9.5 million other people, I welcomed the return of Downton Abbey at the weekend, but I have to say it had better pull its socks up because the first episode was very close to boring. The most exciting thing to happen was O'Brian disappearing into the night leaving only two notes behind on the mantelpiece. Not that she's a loss, really. I never liked her, and she is the one who spoilt the Granthams' last chance of producing an heir.

But the programme didn't sparkle. Perhaps it is hard to sparkle when there are widows and relatives in black all over the house and neighbourhood. Lord Grantham is being absurdly dictatorial and instead of giving stick-thin Mary a shake or two, he continually urges everyone to let her be; let her grieve in peace. Silly man.

New Tricks is not what it once was, either. I cannot warm to Nicholas Lyndhurst, and James Bolam was right when he complained some time ago that the story lines were getting decidedly stodgy. I miss Alun Armstrong. Dennis Lawson is OK but he has little to work with scriptwise or colleague-wise. Lets hope Tamzin Outhwaite can inject a bit of life into the show.

And then there's Doc Martin. I loved this series and have watched the old series more than once. But this time the stories have lost their originality, and Louisa has become a nag. The focus could well switch to Ruth Ellingham if they're not careful. Penhale is still a delight in well meaning stupidity, and Bert and Al are as good as ever. Even Morwenna raises a smile. But I wish Martin would give Louisa a taste of his usual medicine sometime soon. Very soon.

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