Saturday, April 18, 2009

Who says there's nothing good on Saturday night television?

A satisfying special. Too bad I had to resort to illegal means to watch it.

Saturday nights have long been a dead zone for anything worthwhile on TV. I don't know how many episodes of "Cops" I've watched simply because it was the only thing on. (I suppose I could go out and DO something, but hey, I'm getting old -- recently got a notice that my 20-Year high school reunion is coming.)

Anyhow, imagine my surprise when the two most entertaining moments of my week -- aside from Wednesday's concert -- came via Saturday night TV, albeit British Saturday night TV.

First, on Sunday, Claire and I watched the Doctor Who Easter Special "Planet of the Dead," which had aired the previous night on the BBC. Yes, I downloaded it illegally ("Free the Pirate Bay Four!"). Do I advocate illegal downloading? No. But if either BBC America or the Sci-Fi Channel had gotten off their duffs and shown it, I would go the legal route (I'm still waiting for the 2008 Christmas special, by the way). Heck, if the BBC had put in on Hulu or streamed it internationally over their website, with or without advertising, I'd have happily watched it that way. But I watched it the only way I could.

And I'm glad I did. It was a straightforward adventure story with some moderate tension. Michelle Ryan, who starred in the ill-received "Bionic Woman" remake in 2007, did a fine job as a one-off companion to the Doctor. She gave off an appropriate "sweet but bad news" vibe and her co-star got a "I'm really going to miss David Tennant" reaction from Claire, who's probably seen fewer than 10 episodes of the series.

I think "Planet of the Dead" resonated with me because it didn't get too ambitious. While there was a world-threatening danger, it wasn't over the top. There was a lot more humor (humour?) than we've seen in Who the last few outings and the plot was simple fun without being dumb.

Claire thinks "Doctor Who" is still a little too scary for Ian, and he did exhibit a little fear when the stingray-like aliens were shown in a clip, so he didn't watch the episode. Ian does occasionally watch a little "Sarah Jane Adventures" with me, so I have no doubt he'll be hiding behind the sofa with me some day soon.

Update (April 19, 2009, 9:59 a.m.): I found a YouTube link of a couple Scottish sock puppets reviewing the episode. The puppets tore the episode apart, but their review is hilarious. Warning, contains spoilers.

Left: Anyone who can do this to Simon Cowell deserves a shout out.

What show beat "Planet of the Dead" in the ratings? "Britain's Got Talent," which aired opposite "Planet of the Dead" on ITV. I generally hate "talent" shows and am happy to say I haven't seen a lick of "American Idol" this season. But sometime on Monday I was sent a link to the Susan Boyle segment.

If you haven't seen it yet, go to YouTube and report back. Bring tissues. The main video on YouTube has 26 million hits as of this afternoon (all that in one week!). I got in early, when it was at about five million.

I admit to have gotten a bit teary the first couple times I saw it and I've rewatched it a few times since. In fact, the only segment I've watched more on the Net recently was the latest Star Trek trailer (I can't wait until May 8!).

Boyle's performance was a huge "f**k you" to all those who judged her on appearance alone and a good affirmation that the public will still appreciate talent even if it isn't in a tiny, young and cute package. Thank the Gods!

No comments: