TV Diary: everything I watched on 29/3/05

WWE Raw: It starts with an occasional chat-show style segment, and commentator Jerry Lawler says, in a surprised tone, “It seems like every time we have a Highlight Reel it ends up in a fight!” Perhaps next week he will note that approximately 50% of wrestlers seem very willing to break the rules. There’s a break in this live transmission, fortunately missing one of their appalling movie-scene-parody trailers for Wrestlemania. Had it lasted a little longer, we’d have missed a women’s champ vs #1 contender arm-wrestling bout. Best line in the show: “I’ve fought The Undertaker at Wrestlemania twice, and both times I was lucky to escape with MY SOUL.”

The Munsters: Not well enough written to want to watch it too often, but Al Lewis as Grandpa is good value, and Fred Gwynne’s Herman is one of the great sitcom characters. The bumbling father is at the heart of so many sitcoms, particularly American, and even without the Frankenstein image, Herman might be the best of them before Homer.

Spy Kids 3: I loved the first two and this has a fabulous opening, with the young boy in a trenchcoat offering a voiceover explaining how he is out of the agency now and never going back. Trouble is, from then on it’s all inside a video game with Sly Stallone as the big enemy. ‘Better than Tron‘ is pretty faint praise.

Smallville: Oh dear. Two days of Earthsea, now I have to adjust back to Lana Lang. This is of course always best watched on video, as then you can FF through the worst theme tune this side of Enterprise. I think the show might be better if they could find story material to carry through a season, and do a bit more that suggests that they know the whole thing has a limited life, which we know it must have.

King Of The Hill: This is an odd series. Has there been a cartoon pitched as a sitcom with so few laughs? It doesn’t try for many. What it does do is take a fairly strong and honest look at an impressive central cast of characters. I am particularly convinced by Hank: I don’t find him likeable, but he is pretty admirable. I also can’t think of another show which uses some of the advantages of animation as this one does: the characters don’t age, so you can keep examining them in depth at the same age; but also the lack of actors who want to be liked and look good means that Peggy can stay plainer than anyone ever does in a live action series, for instance. An interesting show.

The Simpsons: The one where the kids are put in the foster care of the Flanders. The moment where Rod & Todd are first exposed to Itchy & Scratchy is great. And a second episode, where Lisa turns vegetarian. This is all from the show’s prime, of course. A real joy.

MASH: Right, any joy has gone because my oven has just gone horribly wrong and there is a smell of burnt lasagne and plastic, and it’s clearly buggered, so I’m in a terrible mood. Didn’t plan to watch TV now, but I’m too pissed off to choose music, so Paramount Comedy is a default option. I am busy ranting and resorting to microwaving, so have nothing to say about the show. I ‘watched’ two episodes. One had a rabbit in it.

CSI: I love this show. It’s generally brilliantly worked out and superbly directed, but the thing that sets this well above the two spin-offs for me is Grissom, a great creation. I kind of wish that more episodes went into the complexities of his character. His superior is gunning for him in this episode, but there’s no real tension about that – though we do get a surprise ending anyway.

Room 101: Guest Harry Hill. A rerun, but don’t think I saw it first time. Reasonably funny, but bantering with someone else is not his style. When he talked about the start of his career, saying “I was happy with two laughs and a clap at the end,” I immediately said: sounds like my sex life. Yes, aloud, despite being on my own.