TV Diary: everything I watched on 27/3/05

Traffic: another one where I hadn’t realised there were subtitles (what is it with American films where not everyone speaks American?). I’m at the computer doing stuff, and can barely read them from here (at least 15′ away). I like the cast a lot, but I suspect my interest in the drug trade is too minuscule to really love this. It kind of drifted past me.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: second ever episode. I had forgotten the roundness of her face in these early shows. It’s pretty straightforward undead action at this stage. I’m slightly surprised that I liked it so much from the start, as bar the odd good line there wasn’t so much to it at this point.

CSI NY: better than Miami, in that I find the star far more tolerable, but he’s no Grissom. I think the CSI franchise may be the best directed regular series TV shows that I have ever seen, spectacular, atmospheric and imaginative. Lots of good acting and thinking too, though there is only the central investigator in each series who isn’t rather underwritten.

Legend of Earthsea: The TV guide I read described this as being in the tradition of Harry Potter, which is interesting phrasing. Obviously it does have a certain amount in common, with the apprentice wizard and several of its details, but it’s set in a fantasy world, not a fantasy offshoot of ours, and is a much more serious and mature piece of work in many ways, if that matters. This is a classy adaptation, and pretty satisfying.

Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman: for me, this movie-length cartoon is is far superior to any of the live action films – I think I would include ALL superhero movies in that, not just Batman ones. It sets up a mystery, gives us clues and suspects and detective work, and comes up with a surprising answer. There is plenty of good action and a terrific climax, and it looks great, but it also deals with quite complex and interesting moral matters and relationships. It’s the kind of story a good comic might take 20 or 30 issues to tell. Tremendous.

Joey: I always liked Friends, which is obviously what started me watching this, but this is highly lame. Joey worked well with someone given sharp lines, like Chandler, but the smart one here is a geek without great wit, which doesn’t work the same way at all. This is a better than average episode, by virtue of giving Joey an emotional involvement with a woman.

Help: For those who don’t know, this is Chris Langham as a psychologist, and Paul Whitehouse playing a vast range of patients. It’s easy to forget that all the dozens of patients are the same actor – even when thinking of it, it’s sometimes hard to believe. It’s mostly about that brilliant acting performance, but it’s also very cleverly and wittily written in places. I love it.