A festive TV review

You look forward to it all year and it always ends up coming and going too quickly. Yes, another season of sitting in front of the telly is all done and dusted. You’ll have gorged on food and drink, and chocolate, all while taking in the delights – or not – of the TV schedules at Christmas. We're a bit late but let’s take a quick look back at the good, the bad, and the indifferent of the last two weeks.

First up, the main gripe of the season: far too many repeats. Do we really need Mrs Brown’s Boys four or five times? Especially in this age of Sky+ and Virgin’s TiVo service. No we don’t. but then with all the cuts on the Beeb it’s no surprise. But it’s not just the BBC, how many times was Zulu on? Or Jurassic Park on ITV over the last few weeks? But that’s enough of that. The great thing about watching things on “tape” is the lack of adverts, or the ability to skip through them. One of the wonders of technology…

On to the shows then, successes, mainly for the BBC: the aforementioned Mrs Brown’s Boys, still as crude and funny as ever, still breaking the third wall and still leading the Christmas Day rankings; Doctor Who presented its most Christmas-y episode yet, including Nick Frost’s Santa; and Harry Hill made his “acting” debut in the kid-friendly The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm .

Not so great was Channel 5’s entry into TV with the starry cast (Olivia Williams and Matthew Modine) of the not so scary, overblown rambling that was The Haunting of Radcliffe House. Whilst ITV pleased some but not all with its annual Downton Abbey special; maybe the show is wearing its welcome thin? Also pretty meh was David Jason’s return as Granville in the start of a full series of Still Open All Hours, which is basically a remake of the Ronnie Barker classic with Granville morphed into Arkwright: same jokes, same characters, thirty years out of time. And James Cordon continued his quest to turn every character he can into James Corden with the return of The Wrong Mans; it’s puzzling how a show that misses being great by such a tiny margin ends up being so damn annoying.

The two major success stories were the two part finale of Miranda which managed to touch the heart with the eponymous heroine’s final direct to camera address. The two episodes managed to combine the best of the shows physical humour and catch phrases with a real poignant conclusion to the story of an unlikely star and her normality. It’s OK not to confirm. Also not conforming were Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench in the wonderful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot. The twinkle in Dame Judi’s eye contrasted splendidly with the unassuming but perfectly pitched turn from Hollywood royalty Hoffman. What could have been a trite 90 minutes was instead a joyous and sweet end to the festive period.

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