55 plus 27: Last night…

Posted: 13 September 2019 in 55 plus, television
Tags: , , , , ,

Nothing really to add the clusterfuck that is the current state of British politics, other than to note that our primus inter mendaces has been at it again today:

And if I write about it any further, I suspect my blood pressure medications won’t suffice.

So, something more pleasant.

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to live in Richmond. well, to be precise in Ham, but hardly anyone knows where that is, so I say Richmond-Upon-Thames and most people have a general idea where that is, to the south west of London.

I was over there last night and this morning, staying with friends; friends I see on a roughly weekly basis. It’s always an evening full of fun and laughter, and it’s a wonderful oasis from the world for a few hours. I don’t think even they realise how truly I value it.

Coming back this morning, I crossed Richmond Bridge, and I was reminded how lovely Richmond can be.

Pretty, isn’t it?

But yesterday evening, we had our usual catchups. Catchups with me (health, and some other stuff) and with them (health, life, one of their kids has just started Big School) and on life in general.

Yes, I’m afraid politics on both sides of the Atlantic was discussed but with surprisingly few swear words, obscenities and curses. Yes, I know. I must have been off my game.

But we also caught up on some telly.

As is well known, my not liking a show is almost guaranteed to mean that it’s a critically acclaimed series that most – if not all – of my friends will enjoy, and will praise to the skies.

But there are exceptions to the rule: shows I like that my friends like as well, so usually, we’ll catch up on the latest episodes; last night all three had episodes broadcast this week , so we caught up on them.

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Oh, gods, how highly can I praise this show? I doubt anyone coming across it for the first time would think of it – as it was thought of in its very, very early days – as “The Daily Show But On A Sunday. John Oliver quickly established the show’s own identity and its own style of doing its thing. Hell, it’s Thing is completely different to The Daily Show, both under Jon Stewart and under Trevor Noah.

(I’ve warmed to Noah’s version of the show the past year, by the way. I’m not sure whether I’ve just become more accepting of it, or whether he’s toned down the things I didn’t like about the first couple of years, while upping the gag quality and content. Either way, my perception is that it’s sharper than it was, and cleverer than it was.)

But Last Week Tonight. Is clever in its own way, and the methodology John applies to his taking apart a story in a 20 minute segment, leading the audience on the story he’s telling is gloriously fun, rightly smug on occasions but utterly compelling.

And even though he knows you an csee where a set up is leading, at least half the time, you’ve missed an important aspect, and it’s not until it drops that you realise quite what you missed, and how important it is.

Have to say I miss the earlier seasons’ ‘and finally…’ moments. They were always fun and usually a much-needed relief from the ‘what the fuck?’ anger at some scandal or issue he’d raised.

Last night’s show… heh, last night’s.. Of course it was Sunday’s show, I just saw it last night. Sunday’s show’s main story was about the filibuster. And for once, it was faintly… I dunno. There was nothing new to me in the story. I mean, it was great, and funny, and showed the idiocy and the hypocrisy inherent in the tactic’s defenders, but I was once again – as I am occasionally – surprised that the audience seemed to find it new.

But then again, I’m never unsurprised at how little most people – on both sides of the Atlantic – know, and usually care, about how things happen, how they’re supposed to happen, and why things happen, in our respective institutions of government and politics.

OK, so after that, we watched…

Full Frontal With Samantha Bee

Again, I wish I had the words to praise this show highly enough. Now this show is, it’s fair to say, a direct evolution in format of The Daily Show. Three segments, six or seven minutes each, with the host railing against this or that, but with sharp gags, and sharper delivery.

It’s not the format that makes Full Frontal so damn good, however. It’s the writing and especially the delivery of Samantha Bee. The anger, frustration, anger, upset, anger and especially the anger shines through on every segment, on every topic, in every glance, every word, every expression, every side-eye to the camera.

My grandmother had an expression: what’s on her lung is on her tongue.

My grandmother would like Sam Bee. Not that the anger is manufactured nor a conceit, not that the fury is an artifice. But the writing takes advantage of her upset, her fury and her boiling exasperation… and channels it into exactly the weapon appropriate for the subject matter: a rapier on this occasion and a bludgeon on that.

The writing is top notch, and Sam’s correspondents (another Daily Show holdover) are used to clever effect, complementing rather than supplementing Sam’s performance.

One notable thing though that I only rarely get from The Daily Show these days: I get the feeling that the correspondents, the host… they like each other. They’re not merely colleagues, they’re people who enjoy working with each other, enjoy each other’s work and enjoy each other’s company.

And that’s enormously pleasing to see. Congratulations to the writing teams, the correspondents and Sam Bee herself for a fantastic, angry show, that’s essential viewing.

After those shows, we finished off with the latest episode of…

Only Connect

There are few quiz shows I’ll watch for pleasure. Hardly any, in fact.

But Only Connect, of which I was an early watcher, almost instantly grabbed me and addicted me. Vitoria Coren Mitchell is a wonderful presenter/host and the questions not only make me think, I take great joy if I get one right, and experience disappointment if I get one wrong, and mild but definite upset if I get one wrong that I should have gotten right….

Sometimes the two teams will go into the final round in a tie or a point or two apart. Sometimes one team goes into that final round quite a bit ahead. Rarely, as in last night’s show, they’ll go into the final round ahead 26 – 6. Ouch.

But its a show that makes me think, and that’s what it shares with the other two shows, and why I enjoy watching all three with two of my closest friends on the planet.

(After they’d gone to bed, I watched the first couple of hours of the Democratic Debate. Hmm. Didn’t enjoy that as much, and I may write about why after the weekend..)
It’s Saturday tomorrow. If you’ve been paying attention, you know what that means. If not, then join me tomorrow for some Saturday silliness. Oh, and join me tomorrow if you know what’s coming up as well. That’d be nice.

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