Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Trolling BBC America

So TiVo's finally started coming up with some really good suggestions. Took maybe a year (the first 8 months of which were devoted almost entirely to trying to catch up on missed episodes of Angel, Stargate, The West Wing, and the Simpsons) for my TV-watching patterns to fill out enough that TiVo could start amassing sensible data on what I watch, but in the past few months it has really started putting some gems in the suggestion box. I now am checking the suggestions as much as my regular season-pass shows. I shall now report on two such suggestions which have caught my fancy.

Green Wing, on BBCA, is sort of like Britain's answer to Scrubs. But like Coupling, their answer to Friends, Green Wing is far less heart-warming and kid friendly than Scrubs. As near as I can tell, no patient ever has a line in Green Wing, and seem to spend a good portion of their time cowering to avoid injury while the staff pursues their aims of alternately screwing or tormenting all the other members of staff. Although theoretically the show centers around Caroline, played by Tamsin Greig (whom most readers of this blog may dimly recall as the nurse in charge of computer-interface implants on Satelite 9) The cast is hugely ensemble, and the narrative cuts dizzyingly between all the characters over the course of an episode (each of which are 1 hour, with commercials - very rare for a sitcom). This dizzying effect is compounded by constant switching between normal speed, slow-motion, and fast motion, designed to highlight the physical comedy. It's a bit like a Guy Ritchie film after one too many bumps of cocaine.

The second gem that TiVo* has picked up for me, also on BBCA, is Black Books. Set in an eponymously named bookshop, it follows Bernard Black, a drunken, chain-smoking, insane used bookseller, his similarly self-destructive neighbor Fran (also played by Tamsin Greig), and his oddly codependent assitant, Manny. Bernard is wholly contemptuous of his customers, to the point of abuse. Somewhat in the tradition of The Young Ones and Bottom, Black Books is a fantastical, impossible voyage into the lives of worthless human beings, and it is invariably hilarious.

*As Renee points out, she may indeed have shown this to me first. All I remember is getting a bunch of grief for drunken enthusiasm for determining that that girl on the teevee was the same one that played the mom in Mirrormask. My enthusiasm turned out to be misplaced because as Holly loudly and insistently pointed out, Tamsin Greig is not in fact Gina McKee. Nonetheless, I was more than one sheet to the wind at the time, so neither my face recognition skills nor my timeline-recollection skills were at the top of their game, although my enthusiasm skills were prodigious. Coincidentally, TiVo picked up Black Books as a suggestion, but it got deleted before I could get a season pass, and there were no upcoming episodes. So I had to wait until TiVo suggestions picked it up AGAIN to successfully add a season pass. Hence my crediting TiVo incorrectly with the introduction. It did successfully introduce me to it, but it did so after Renee's intro.


UnrulyDuckling said...

I am totally taking credit for introducing Black Books. If any of you disagree, I have one thing to say to you: "Which one of you bitches wants to dance?"

Dave-o-ramA said...

What? I'll dance.

SerenitySprings said...

But only with Brad.

sharrrrron said...

I believe it was the afternoon of pirate debauchery when black books presented itself