When I went to see Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing", one trailer stood out. It's a trailer for the "Alan Partridge" movie. Now I don't know how well this is going to do. Alan Partridge isn't a character who has been on tv for a while and I'm pretty sure he's not well known in America.
Alan Patridge is perhaps the most well-loved character to be created by the legendary comedian Steve Coogan. I don't know what films of his people would be most likely to have seen. "24 Hour Party People"? (I've never seen that one.) "A Cock And Bull Story"? (That one's pretty obscure.) "The Parole Officer." (Even if you have seen that one, it's really not Coogan at his best.) Perhaps the best examples to point out are "In The Loop" where he is the guy who owns the collapsing wall. I felt he was in danger of stealing the show there, even with just a tiny role. Another high profile example is "Tropic Thunder" where he is the director (named "Damien Cockburn") who, um, disappears early on in the movie. (Personally not really a big "Tropic Thunder" fan to be honest.)
I remembered seeing adverts on tv promoting "Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Patridge" back in 1994 and unfortunately I didn't realise it was a comedy at the time. It's misleading that it initially appears to be a typical chat show and it takes a short while to recognise that the whole thing is a complete send-up. The host is self-centred and consistently massaging his own ego and in spite of seemingly promoting a politically correct show, constantly reveals casual bigotry, misogyny and general ignorance. His guests either hate him, discover that they hate him during the show or like him for the wrong reasons.
I've since caught up on this initial appearance of the character "Alan Partridge" including the excellent 'Christmas Special' (entitled "Knowing Me Knowing Yule with Alan Patridge"). The final conclusion of the Christmas special is shown as a flashback at the beginning of the first series of "I'm Alan Patridge" with a BBC executive (played by the awesome David Schneider) insisting "you shall never work in television again!" So how can there be any more shows? Because Alan moves to radio! Working on Radio Norwich (for non-UKers, that's a pretty mundane area btw) we spend very little time seeing how ridiculous he is as a radio broadcaster, spending a lot more time watching Alan Partridge have meetings and try to salvage his fledgling career. It's been a long time, but I remember absolutely loving the first series of "I'm Alan Patridge" in 1997, though I'm not certain whether I saw the second series which apparently aired in 2002.
Now the Alan Patridge movie seems to show him still working in radio. Unsurprisingly he decides to backstab one of his co-workers to get him made redundant, but he then becomes a hostage in an armed siege. Alan Partridge is a delightful combination of horrible, egotistical and stupid. As an audience we love to watch him make a fool of himself and suffer for it. This looks like it'll be hilarious...
)TV Shows Update:
I don't talk much about tv shows because I generally wait until they reach DVD before I watch them. So here are my comments on all the shows I've enjoyed in the past few years:Game Of Thrones
I've finished the first two seasons and I kinda love it. A bit weirded out by the sex bits, but I don't think you need to focus on that so much. Clearly Peter Dinklage, Charles Dance and whatshername, the girl character, *googles* Arya Stark, are the most awesome parts of it. I tried reading the first book before watching the first series and couldn't get into it at all. I am better with faces than names and after the initial part of the book where every character I've been introduced to promptly dies, the author then gives me a bunch of names to remember without describing what any of those characters are like. I then struggled to work out who was who and got wholly frustrated. Yeah, I didn't really give it much of a chance, but even my mum whose a big reader seemed thankful to have been introduced to some of the main characters in the initial tv episodes before she dove into the book series. I loved Neil Marshall
's episode "Blackwater"Party Down
My main reason for checking this out was because I heard it had a reference to "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" before the book was written. And it's true. In the version they describe in the relevant episode Edgar Allen Poe and Abraham Lincoln both hunt vampires together. Essentially the series is about washed-up actors and writers who work in catering to make some money. I gained additional enjoyment when watching "Wreck-It Ralph" as a result of gaining familiarity with her in "Party Down". She's great.Girls
So far I've only seen season 1, but it's pretty cool. Interestingly Lena Dunham has a short cameo in Ti West's horror-comedy "The Innkeepers". It might as well be Hannah from "Girls" though she's essentially just known as "that annoying girl who works at the coffee shop" in the movie. (Actually she's also credited as "911 voice operator" in Ti West's other movie "The House Of The Devil".) Lena Dunham both wrote and stars in the series "Girls" and while she's pretty, she has a refreshingly normal figure for a protagonist that young on American television. Pretty much every character in Girls has massive flaws, including the central protagonist and that's part of why the series is so enjoyable. Nearly episode seems to feature Hannah having awful sex with her weird boyfriend - which is um, unique. This is equal parts drama and comedy, but the comedy is funny enough to make those moments worth the wait - and in a good episode, you really won't be waiting long.Miranda
Okay, enough of the American stuff. While we are on the subject of less conventional body types in female protagonists, it seems like perfect time to talk about Miranda Hart. I first saw her in the tv series "Hyperdrive", a sci-fi comedy series which slightly recaptured the magic that "Red Dwarf" now appears to have thoroughly lost. (For me, "Red Dwarf" only has six series worth mentioning. Ending ironically with the words "To Be Continued...") In "Hyperdrive" Miranda's character was a stickler for the rules and in one episode tries to spark up an old romance with a childhood friend from the Camp for Young Agnostics
she used to go to.
Alongside Sarah Hadland who used to regularly feature in "Mitchell and Webb" sketches, Miranda (in the tv series) runs a joke shop which she paid for with her life savings. Miranda is a character who gets flustered by social expectations and just wants to enjoy herself without the pressures of life getting in the way. She is an extremely tall and quite large woman and so many of the jokes are connected with her insecurity about her appearance and the way she is regularly put down because she doesn't conform to classic beauty standards. Some people hate this series, but it's just so sweet and endearing that I don't understand how they can feel that way. Each to their own I guess.
I've onlys seen series one of "Miranda" so far, but I actually first found out about it through the Christmas specials.( About Another Sixteen TV Series Listed Under The Cut... )