Previously on My Life In TV…
There were the usual eclectic choices and rarely seen gems including hilarious aliens and swashbuckling dogs! The further into the memory banks I go the more long-forgotten programmes I remember and then the list gets longer…
Continuing the brutal humour of their break-out hit The Young Ones, Adrian Edmondson and the very-much-missed Rik Mayall return in Bottom. It’s crude, rude and anarchic and extremely funny. Eddie and Richie, two flatmates on the dole in London, spend the majority of their time being extremely violent to each other and coming up with plans to find women who want to have sex with them. The humour is broad and the show is noted for it’s violent slapstick but it is, in essence, a very funny sitcom about two people who think they have a much higher social status than they do.
WATCH IT FOR: “You’ve been drinking, haven’t you?”
DAVE GORMAN: MODERN LIFE IS GOODISH (2013-present)
Comedian Dave Gorman looks at life in a different way using his trusty Powerpoint presentations. Most episodes take a very simple situation that we all encounter and Dave turns it on it’s head to reveal the absurdity of life. QR codes, questionnaires, giving your name in certain coffee shops and Home Under The Hammer all come under scrutiny but it’s the Found Poems that are the real star of the show. Dave loves to trawl the lower half of the internet and take all the comments left and turn them into works of art set to music. If you haven’t seen this show then I must urge you to seek it out because it really is very funny, intelligent and will leave you thinking that, you know what, modern life is good-ish!
WATCH IT FOR: One of the Found Poems
WHO’S THE BOSS? (1984-1992)
There was a sort of golden era of sitcoms in the USA during the 1980s, almost every show that came out was a comedy and a hit. Most were carbon copies of each other but some came along that were just a little bit different. Former professional baseball player Tony (Tony Danza) and his daughter Samantha (Alyssa Milano) move in to the home of high-powered businesswoman Angela Bower (Judith Light) and her son Jonathan (Danny Pintauro) where Tony has recently taken the job of housekeeper. Most of the comedy comes from the role reversal situations and different class Tony and Angela share. As with all 80s sitcoms there is great support, this time in the shape of Katherine Helmond as Angela’s mother, and a catchy, if somewhat cheesy, theme tune. I used to love watching this growing up, not least because of the crush I had on Alyssa Milano!
WATCH IT FOR: That theme tune
The say comedy is all about the timing. KYTV came along at the perfect time, right at the beginning of satellite television in the UK. KYTV is a parody channel that specialises in being quite naff and cheap. Angus Deayton, Geoffrey Perkins, Helen Atkinson Wood, Philip Pope and Michael Fenton Stevens take on a variety of guises as the often inept hosts and presenters of the channels output. It’s funny, satirical and very underrated. I enjoyed watching this when it was shown on the BBC and often wish it was repeated again.
WATCH IT FOR: The joys of the internet, there’s a full episode here…
Rather than another Batman origin story, here we see the rise of Detective Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) in the years before the Caped Crusader rose to prominence. I’ll admit to being a little sceptical about this show and it did take me a while to warm to this reimagining of the famous story. I persevered, though, and have been rewarded with a show that is both gritty and dark while still maintaining the comic book vibes. David Mazouz plays the young Bruce Wayne while Sean Pertwee is Alfred Pennyworth, his trusty guardian and butler. Among the many stand-out performances throughout the series so far, Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin absolutely steals the show. The only trouble I have with the show is that Channel 5 here in the UK is so far behind and, at the time of writing, we are still awaiting the screening of series 3!
WATCH IT FOR: The New York Comic-Con trailer for Season 2
THE VICE (1999-2003)
This is one of those dramas that television does so well. Uncovering the seedy side of London’s sex trade while at the same time giving us fully-rounded and real characters. Ken Stott, who, for a long time, seemed to be the go-to actor for this type of role, stars as veteran copper Inspector Chappell. Chappell heads the Met’s vice squad which sometimes falls under the spell of the dark side itself. This isn’t for the faint-hearted, the stories included deal with very sensitive subjects and doesn’t shy away from it either. There is fine support from an array of up-and-coming actors: Marc Warren, David Harewood, Caroline Catz and a particularly sinister turn from the late Tim Pigott-Smith. Plus, the theme tune is a corker – Portishead “Sour Times”
WATCH IT FOR: There are full episodes online – like this one!
MIKE & ANGELO (1989-2000)
The story of a friendly alien living with an American boy in England! During the 1980s, UK television was full of this kind of sitcom. Aimed at children and shown on weekday afternoons, the programmes usually featured outrageous situations and slapstick comedy and often tried to recreated the US-style of show. Mike & Angelo was one of the more successful (and better) ones. Over the course of the show’s lifespan there were two Angelo’s (Tyler Butterworth and Tim Whitnall) and a number of Mike’s and supporting characters but the majority of the humour was the same. Alien doesn’t quite understand the human way of life…with hilarious consequences! I quite liked it, even though looking at some of the episodes online I wonder why!
WATCH IT FOR: The full, first episode!
DIAGNOSIS MURDER (1993-2001)
The beauty of this programme is the fact that it is still shown today, endlessly on some channels, yet I can still watch it. The wonderful Dick Van Dyke stars as Dr Mark Sloan, a man who often finds trouble and has to enlist the help of his detective son, Steve (Barry Van Dyke) to solve the crimes. It’s a light-hearted crime show, very much in the family entertainment bracket rather than some of the more gritty procedurals on TV at the moment. Much like Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996), Diagnosis Murder features famous guest stars and improbable coincidences but is great fun.
WATCH IT FOR: Theme tune
MAGNUM, P.I. (1980-1988)
Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) is an ex-Navy Captain and Vietnam Special Ops veteran who resigned his commission and ‘retired’ to Hawaii where he works as a private investigator. Magnum’s life on the Hawaiian islands seem idyllic but there is always plenty of murder and intrigue to keep him busy. Magnum resides at the lavish estate of renowned author Robin Masters and is kept company by Higgins (John Hillerman) who patrols the estate with his two Doberman dogs, Zeus and Apollo. Higgins often helps out with Magnum’s cases, as do T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) and Rick (Larry Manetti). The show was a massive hit and won many awards. It’s fondly remembered for the great cast as well as Magnum’s Ferrari and the excellent theme tune from the legendary Mike Post.
WATCH IT FOR: That theme tune!
It seems only fitting that the last word in this rundown goes to the late, great Adam West who forged a career playing the Caped Crusader on television. Whereas Gotham takes the focus away from Bruce Wayne and concentrates on Jim Gordon, this is all about Wayne and Dick Grayson/Robin (Burt Ward). Long before he became the Dark Knight, Batman was as camp as Christmas. Full of everything the sixties had to offer, this show was more comic book than an actual comic book. Part of the joy of this series, apart from West’s iconic performance, was the ability to attract some of the biggest names in Hollywood to appear as guest villains. Vincent Price, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Roddy McDowell, Frank Gorshin among many other wonderfully cheesy performances. It was, essentially, a giant pantomime on the small screen and still wows viewers to this day. The sad news this week that Adam West had passed away only reinvigorated the show’s popularity and brought about an outpouring of grief from the show’s many fans who declare that West is their Batman. I can’t argue with that, even though I’m of a much later generation, as I grew up watching the repeats and loved the camp, cheesy and outrageous plots.
WATCH IT FOR: The best of West
There you go, another countdown of the television programmes that have somehow made an impact on me. It’s good fun rummaging around the archives to find the right clips or pictures to depict the show and the whole process has brought back a lot of memories. If you like what you see please feel free to drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you. Until next time…
“Come on, Robin, to the Bat Cave! There’s not a moment to lose!”