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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Weekend TV Reviews Round-Up: September 2nd, 2014

Source: Radio Times
A new term begins for David Walliams' Big School and the Doctor battles the Daleks (again!) as we deliver our verdicts on the weekend's telly.
As the eagle-eyed readers amongst you may well have noticed, we here at On-Screen strive to constantly find ways in which to innovatively deliver our content (whether it takes the form of news coverage, a review, a feature or something else entirely). To this end, today we're testing out a new feature which is aimed at recapping the UK TV programmes which aired here over the weekend and simultaneously evaluating their overall quality.

Perhaps we'll resurrect this feature on a weekly basis or perhaps it'll end up being remembered as a mere one-off, but it's worth a try if nothing else. Read on below to discover our thoughts on the second episode of Doctor Who Season Eight, Big School's season opener and (if you think you're up to it, that is) the very first instalment of the new series of The X Factor, all of which were broadcast on terrestrial networks between Friday, August 29th and Sunday, August 31st:

  • BIG SCHOOL: WHICH WAY NOW? (Aired Friday, August 29th on BBC One) - Aptly enough, the title of this somewhat mediocre opening episode serves as a fitting summary of not only the divided loyalties of many of the characters who comprise the show's charming ensemble and their fears regarding the future, but additionally the status of the programme as a whole, particularly in light of its less-than-spectacular initial run and the 1.2 million drop in viewing ratings which seems to have occurred between Seasons One and Two. Whilst we'd love to proclaim that Big School has once again found its footing with "Which Way Now?", quite to the contrary, the programme couldn't have seemed less sure of itself on Friday night, rehashing visual gags such as Steve Speirs' increasingly desperate Geography teacher-turned-caretaker and the all-too-apparent inability of Daniel Rigby's somehow charismatic Music lecturer to produce a noteworthy single of his own. David Walliams and Catherine Tate's on-screen chemistry thankfully carried through, inducing chuckles and cringes aplenty from this reviewer, but aside from that strength and Philip Glenister's enduringly hilarious pronunciation of the word "Geo-graphy", the episode itself simply didn't carry much comedic weight. Evidently there's a new curriculum of post-watershed comedy in place on BBC One, but at this stage, it's proving just as ineffective as Michael Gove's game-changing syllabi. 3/5
  • DOCTOR WHO: INTO THE DALEK (Aired Saturday, August 30th on BBC One) - Executive producer Steven Moffat's persistent claims that the new series of Doctor Who would act as a fresh start for the long-running programme are beginning to seem a bit rich now, quite frankly. Two weeks into the latest run and all we've seen so far are two classic antagonists utilized in equally uninspiring ways in order for the Moff to reassure those viewers who are struggling to come to terms with Capaldi's uncharacteristically-unhinged and apathetic (not to mention inconsistently portrayed, though we'd wager that's more a by-product of the increasingly flawed writing than of Capaldi's actorial talents) Time Lord that he is the same "good man" and the show is still just as ambitious as it was in its heyday. The possibility remains that our excursion to the supposedly mythical realms of Robin Hood in "Robot of Sherwood" next week will bring some surprises, yet for now, we're left with "Into the Dalek", an episode which was blatantly commissioned as a result of its (initially) alluring title rather than the potential of its core narrative. From "Genesis of the Daleks" - specifically its remarkably intelligent representation of the Daleks and the eschewed morality which led to their creation - to "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS", the number of serials which were riffed on in one way or another (whether through Phil Ford's constantly-referential dialogue or Ben Wheatley's shockingly unaccomplished direction, the latter of which paid homage to classic serials aesthetically on numerous occasions) here was absolutely staggering, to the extent that this reviewer was left wondering if Doctor Who had anything new left to offer at this point in time (and space). Certainly, the romantic interplay which Jenna Coleman's Clara and Samuel Anderson's Danny struck up back at Coal Hill School was charming enough and might compel many viewers to stick around, but it was incredibly telling of the shortcomings of this particular tale that we were left disheartened by the notion of departing Coal Hill and heading off into the furthest reaches of outer space, not least as it meant putting up with the return of a band of adversaries who should arguably have been cast aside long before now.  Much as we'll always hold a special place in our hearts for Who, don't necessarily expect to see as many articles based around the show at On-Screen for the foreseeable future, as Moffat and company have a lot of work to do if they'd like us to take time out of our Saturday evenings for the programme in the weeks ahead. 2/5
  • THE X FACTOR: EPISODE 1 (Aired Saturday, August 30th on iTV1) - Don't worry, this one won't take long. True to form, The X Factor returned not with a bang but with a tragic whimper two days ago, retaining all of the usual tiresome contestant backstory melodrama and behind-the-scenes 'squabbles' which we've come to hate in the years following the programme's inception. Not even the returns of Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole (don't get us started on the needless introduction of Mel B into the mix - in a word...why?) could ultimately redeem what turned out to be just as tedious and predictable a season opener as everyone with a fully-functioning brain had expected from the outset (if not moreso). Compared to this dross, even "Into the Dalek" seemed like an adequate enough watch (but don't feel as if that's meant to be a wholehearted endorsement of the latter episode by any means!). 1/5
For all the latest news, reviews and features on upcoming UK and US TV programmes, keep it locked at On-Screen in the weeks ahead.

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