And the caravan rolls on for Claudia Karvan

Claudia Karvan seems like a reasonable actress. Especially if you like your characters middle-class, uptight and on every show you watch on the telly.

I have nothing against Ms Karvan, but it does seem that she is getting the lion’s share of Aussie actress roles. Everything that is coming out now has her name on it: Puberty Blues and Time of Our Lives. Before then it was Love My Way and Secret Lives of Us and before that it was Heartbreak High (her best role yet!).

It’s not that I dislike Claudia Karvan or think her acting is particularly good or bad. It’s just that for some reason, she is now considered a fabulous actress, who must be in any quality TV series. Need a wannabee yummy mummy – no problem, book Claudia. Need a stressed-out teacher – here’s Claudia. Need a doctor, Claudia’s free. Need someone to not show emotion. Show Claudia (I mean the could just hire Julie Bishop but that’s a whole other blog). Need someone to act hysterical, here’s Claudia (again).

I’m pretty sure there must be other actresses around who could do an equally good or better job and who are not getting a look in, because, well just because.

If Claudia really is the only one in Australia who can do hysterical helicopter mom, then so be it, the gig is hers. But I’ve got a feeling quite a few actors can do annoyed and I’d like to see them given a red hot go.


Borgen TV series is an open sandwich short of a picnic

The Scandi pollie noir drama, Borgen, showing at the moment on SBS, is more popular than a Kevin Rudd tweet. If you google Borgen criticism you will find virtually none. Which is why it is important I right this wrong today.

Borgen is the most boring, script-by-numbers, humourless piece of TV since Celebrity Masterchef.

Here is a brief recap: in the State of Denmark, female prime minister is elected out of the blue. Despite her talent and dedication she has problems at work. Her husband used to be nice but he gets cheesed (jarlsberged) off because she is prime minister and he’s not so he takes up with younger model blond who her kids really like. Then cut to shot of prime minister coming home to an empty house and feeling overwhelmed by the housework and cooking she still has to do.

Queue subplot: her media advisor has the hots for an allegedly hard-hitting hot journo but they have the onscreen chemistry of a toothpaste commercial.

Here are some questions I have about Borgen:

– Why is the Prime Minister doing her own housework, cooking and laundry?

– Why is it so hard for the Prime Minister to source childcare?

– Why is there no security at her house?

– Who wrote this appalling script?

Sure, a female prime minister is still relatively new TV. Sure Denmark is a politically correct wonderland with great design, furniture and tans, but it not in the business of comedy. (Which also explains Princess Mary). Be that as it may, there is no escaping the fact that this is humourless, dry and strangely unbelievable TV.

Borgen is so dull it makes televised golf look like Gone with the Wind. If you want political intrigue, a gripping storyline, sexual tension, sexual politics and a epic revenge story, look no further than Canberra.

Scandi noir gives me the blues

Scandi Noir’s star is rising quicker than you can say Skol. It’s the latest greatest TV genre and it seems that TV land cannot get enough of it

Further proof that Ikea is plotting a world takeover.

As usual, I’ve missed the bandwagon but done a little telly catch up and recently have seen Borgen, Wallender and something else where someone is viciously killed and a group of blondes in woolly jumpers sit in meetings trying to find the perpetrator, aka The Scandi Baddie.

The result is usually so unbelievable that you’re meant to believe it. 

Scandi Noir is bleak, depressing and no amount of svelte neo Vikings with cute little noses and perfect cheekbones changes a thing. These people have no sense of humour and why is it taking eight weeks to solve a crime? They are inefficient! NSW cops could have knocked some of these crimes off in three weeks and then gone to the pub. Bugger sitting in meetings wearing turtlenecks! 

Scandi Noir may sound like a new and lethal cocktail but after a block of Scandi Noir TV watching I’m ready to drink my own body weight in Finnish vodka.

I’d like to see Scandi Noir put back in its box – eine kleine relaxation for Scandinavians at the end of their 30 hour week. Skol to that.

Gyrating Giro Keeps me Spinning Around

It’s on again. The Race for Pink.

That’s right, the Giro d’Italia, which is Italian for Tour de France, is back on SBS 2 once again.

Each May around 200 world-class cyclists battle it on a tour of Italy, with their view firmly fastened on the bum in front of them.

The Giro D’Italia is the precursor to the Tour de France, but in my view, it’s better. Why? It’s more casual, more chaotic, the riders are fresher as it’s earlier in the season, the scenery is fabuloso and … they wear pink.

That’s right, none of this pansy yellow jersey stuff of the Tour de France. In the Giro d’Italia, the leader of each stage gets to don a pink jersey. That’s why it’s dubbed as the Race for Pink.

What I love about the Giro is the chance to take in Italy’s sumptuous scenic and cultural delights. Bellissimo men. But only if you like to see fit, athletic, tanned, European guys (and the odd top Aussie) in lycra. If you don’t like that, stick to watching badminton.

But back to the Giro. It is amazing more people don’t know about it. Watching a peloton (do you like my new expert lingo?) race downhill and then sprint, seemingly on top of each other, to the finish line each night is adrenalin on steroids.

Also, not unlike religion, there is the mystery of how the whole thing works. It seems whoever wins a particular stage, gets to wear a coloured jersey. There’s a pink jersey, a red jersey, a blue jersey, a white jersey and a King of the Mountain Jersey (which I think might double up as the blue jersey but who would know?)

I have been watching the Giro for a few years and still am no closer to figuring it out. But with scenery (in all its forms) like this, does it really matter?

If you’re interested (you know you want to), it’s on SBS 2 every night at 6pm.

Dopey scandal – Channel 9 olympics coverage

Channel 9‘s olympics coverage has bounced between smarmy and confused. If these were qualities in a person then you’d cross the road to avoid them. However if you are on free to air TV, it’s not really an option. Unless you like watching repeats of Inspector Rex on SBS (actually I do!).

But back to the dog called Channel 9. What really gets my goat is that Channel 9 have two whole extra channels to play with. So, they could have easily and cheaply shown the olympics on two channels – one for games like basketball, hockey, heck why not throw in a little of the Swedish handball game. And the main showcase channel (ie 9 itself) for segments of all the other stuff – gymnastics, track and field, swimming.

At the moment, they are jumping around from sport to sport like channel surfing is an olympic sport. Then when Usain and the girls rowing clashed, they couldn’t decide what to do so they installed the split screen, a filming device not seen since 1973.

It is hard to believe that in this age of youtube, pay tv and internet that channel 9 could treat us so badly – and get away with it.

Nothing less than a parliamentary enquiry is needed. Next time, channel 9 shouldn’t be allowed to go near the olympics. The whole thing should be given to the ABC – channel 2 for the main events, channel 24 can be used for spillover events, Wilko can commentate and Wendy and Ange can host.

Giro this – porn for girls

If you like your porn best served with pink lycra, a bit of sweat on muscle and rolling Italian countryside, turn on your TV set.

That’s right – it’s Giro time! If you haven’t experienced the pleasures of the Giro before, it’s the Giro D’Italia – a professional cycling race in Italy held in May. It’s the precursor to the Tour de France, which also has its fair share of porn for girls (scenery, lycra, cyclists) but the Giro is just, well, more Italian. It seems a bit more relaxed, but not too relaxed, if you know what I mean.

It’s attractive on so many levels. It’s best recorded so you can fast forward the ads and go back to the bits that particularly appeal (SBS 2 every night at 6pm). You can do a straight vanilla watch first, to see who wins (it’s fun pretending you actually follow it) and decide which bits need reviewing later. Then watch for the winsome scenery and then go back and watch for the sheer viewing pleasure of seeing extremely toned (but not beefcakey) men grunt up hills. It’s addictive, I tell you and just as good with the sound down.

It’s got an international flavour, which is good, as I like to mix it up. Europeans are well represented, there’s a smattering of Americans and a few patriotic moments when the Aussies do well. And what a relief that Aussie cyclists seem quite erudite, not a Warney in sight.

I’ve checked the website and know the schedule – there’s nearly two more weeks of Giro, and I intend lapping up every second.

The Biggest Loser is the viewer

The other night I watched the Biggest Loser Singles by mistake.

Now, when it comes to TV, I’m not exactly in touch with what most people want to watch. I’m talking Big Brother, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and anything with George Columbaris. But, The Biggest Loser Singles has reached a new, big, hairy, fat TV bottom for me.

The premise seems to be: take a bunch of fatties, lard-arses, telly-tubbies, call them what you will, they are people who have, well let themselves go. We’re talking 250kg for the men, and not a whole lot less for the women. And they’re single. No surprises (except this: most people wait till they’re married to let themselves go).

Anyway, that fat factoid aside, these fat, single people are put in teams (eg men, over 30’s women, under 30’s women) and have to perform extreme physical challenges, lose 20kg, vote someone off the fat camp and have an emotional meltdown all in one episode.

Presiding over this, are two carton-skinny personal trainers, who enthusiastically bully these fatties, and who I would enthusiastically like to smack.

This goes on for an hour. It’s not even good TV. Sure, fat people are funny. But not every night, and constant footage of fatties trying to run is a cheap gag.

Sure, you could argue that this is a community health message. But we all know eating too much is bad for you, but we still all do it anyway. In fact I think it is encouraging fat people to get fatter so they can get on TV.

Plus tempting the contestants with all the food that got them this porky in this first place is not good nutrition advice. Channel 10 if they want a treat, give them an apple. But fat people eating an apple? Not good TV.

From what I can see Channel 9’s Excess Baggage follows the same lines. The only questions I have in my mind is who is watching this stuff? Why? And the other one – these people vote …

Evidence shows lawyers just not that good looking

When in the year 3067 historians study the current era, they will ask one question. Why did they make lawyers so goodlooking on TV?

Take Crownies for instance. In real life a pouty, leggy blonde would be an Eastern European tennis star – not a young solicitor. Take The Good Wife – in real life a sultry, yet put-upon wife would be a football wife with a book to flog, not a high-powered lawyer. If she could keep a job.

And going back slightly in time – Ally McBeal – in real life she would have been a prostitute or maybe working at Wendy’s. Maybe. Just maybe.

But still, TV likes to churn out legal courtroom drama after drama populated with actors who look like they are out of Project Runway, only wearing glasses trying to convey the message that they are smart supermodels.

Also, these same programs like to pretend that legal work is fulfilling and exciting. I have one word for these scriptwriters – conveyancing.

Apparently there is a glut of graduates coming out of law school – there are way more people than jobs. I’m not surprised, what impressionable teenager wouldn’t want to be a lawyer after ten minutes of watching a legal show. So why don’t the production wonks solve our skills crisis by making some other jobs sexy? Like garbology for instance, someone to clean the toilets at Sydney Airport or someone to run the Italian economy.

And why don’t they take a better look at a real life lawyer. Chances are they don’t have a face for television.

Slow cooked eggs

A few weeks ago I couch potato surfed my way onto Masterchef, only to see some slow cooked eggs being praised by the judges, who quite frankly must have lost their taste buds in a blender accident.

I mean slow cooked eggs? Why would anyone eat this? I’ve heard of the Slow Food movement, but c’mon, these are eggs. They cook in three minutes and you eat them in one.  The three-minute egg was invented for a reason – it does the job.

Now, thanks to Masterchef, or should that be Whack Job Chef, slow cooked eggs could be set to become the new tonka bean, waygu beef or duck confit. If I see slow cooked eggs done nine ways, I’m gonna produce a fast baked scream.

They are up there with absculptors and terror alert fridge magnets in terms of bad ideas. After 20,000 plus years on the planet I think we’ve pretty much done what we can with the egg.

Masterchef, if you’ve run out of ideas, then here’s one – how about just blend stuff. It doesn’t matter what: George’s eyebrows, Garry’s smirk, tonka beans, Delicious magazine – chuck it all in. It’s entertainment for the whole family, makes satisfying noises, with any luck may burn down the studio and would taste better than a slow cooked egg any day.

Man Vs Wild drives me wild – and not with desire

Bear Grylls Man Vs Wild is pure comedy. I mean who – and I am not making this up – gives themself a colonoscopy on a dingy? Not to mention ingesting handfuls of live cockroaches and doing backflips on cracking ice to demonstrate survival techniques.

As I say – comedy. Trouble is Bear seems to take it seriously. How anyone can say with a straight face: “I’m just going to squeeze my body through a dark cave the size of a pencil to eat some crunchy bat poo” is beyond me. But he does!

Then every so often, in between ludicrous statements, he’ll say something that is meant to be a lightbulb moment, but just leaves me saying, what the %^&*? Such as the other night he was skirting around a very high ledge and he said: “If I fall it will hurt.”

You think? So how come you won’t get hurt knocking back weasel wee and chowing down on rat sashimi? Or backflipping into an active volcano? How about some perspective Bear?

Also Bear, despite saying on his website that he has excellent people skills, seems to have the personality of a freeze-dried meal. His delivery is monotonous, any sense of humour is missing in action or been edited out (if he can’t see the funny side of bat poo then I can’t help him) and he is just getting weirder and weirder. Case in point; shipboard enema. Plus, he’s been taking off his clothes an awful lot lately for no good reason, consequently we’ve seen a lot of his pixellated bum.

I do admire what he does, I like the scenery of the places he goes, but for me, the real hero is the cameraman. He does everything Bear does, but with a camera, and has to film Bear routinely taking all his clothes off plus put up with Bear. If that’s not a logie-winning performance, I don’t know what is.