If the drab affair of Creation Stories taught audiences and author Irvine Welsh one thing, it is that dab hands in novels are not the same for scriptwriting. That Ewen Bremner-led piece was as sordid as Welsh’s work gets, but not put together correctly. It lacked the pace of the written prose and the subsequent adaptations that come from it. Apparently, Britbox did not hear of the car crash scriptwriting attempt Welsh was involved in and brought him on to adapt a piece of his later bibliography, Crime. A straight-shooting and soulful sequel to Filth, a book and film that relied on the wackier imagery, the wilder content found within and the distance it placed between regular police work and its protagonist.
Friends and family would be the first to point out how much I work. A lot of that comes from enjoying my job, but a bit more of it comes from the fear of not working. Not making money or not keeping the brain active in some line of employment is an odd fright to have, but it is there and present fairly often. For a few months, from December 2021 to February 2022 (and a couple days in March), I was working two full-time jobs on top of each other and was convinced I could make that work no problem. This was a choice, rather than a forced commitment that was spurred on by money troubles or any personal worries. Three months working two eight hour shifts on top of one another isn’t healthy, naturally, but it would take another month and an episode of King of the Hill for me to realise that.
Ahead of its third season releasing this year, what better time than now to look back on The Boys? It premiered and soon became a flagship show for the Prime Video brand. Its uber-gritty, so-called mature tone set The Boys apart from the mostly homogenous pack that is the mainstream of the comic book and superhero format. It was a certainty that expansions would be made to the world overseen by showrunner Eric Kripke, and Diabolical, the first addition to the universe, is a hit. This eight-episode collection is a hybrid of canon-recognised narratives mangled in with the usual outlandishness that we’ve come to expect from Billy Butcher and company, resulting in an easily watchable and equally entertaining offshoot.
BBC documentarian Louis Theroux has been teeing up for a project like this ever since his first appearance on the vaguely forgotten Michael Moore project, TV Nation. Theroux fluttered the idea of an autobiographical piece with his excellent non-fiction effort, Gotta Get Theroux This, but a visualisation of his career thus far was always going to happen. It was inevitable, and as he described in his latest book, Theroux the Keyhole, a career retrospective was necessary and put on the front burner to fill holes within the BBC schedule during the coronavirus pandemic. That it does, it certainly feels a bit like filler as Theroux stretches his life’s work to a four-part documentary miniseries.
Documentary makers and the suspense they can craft with strong work find themselves in a rough patch. Investigative journalism is in a tough state. Gone are the days of Watergate scandals and the role of journalists as bearers of the people’s rights and the fourth estates. There are few still working in the field of video journalism that can provide the quality of the prime time, but Louis Theroux has been a typically stalwart man of quality documentaries. His lull was concerning, chasing topics of Joe Exotic and retreading old ground to see how his meta and meme work was getting on. He has shifted focus once more, back to strong journalism and unbiased confrontations with fringe groups. He has come full circle with Louis Theroux: Forbidden America – Extreme and Online, where his impartiality comes off as sly confusion in a grand documentary series that will be a treat for audiences wanting to know more about worrying groups.
Passionate about the country and the cooking, Stanley Tucci (Italian on both sides, he boasts) is off to Italy to figure out where the food and rich history of Italy comes from. A travelogue-turned-cookery show with bits of history thrown in along the way. Such a rich mix has the worry of overwhelming the senses. But when Tucci storms through the streets of Italy he understands not just the food and the delight that surrounds it but the architecture of the streets and the bustling way of living. He dives deep into the heart of Italy’s 3000 years of history with a contemporary view of Italian food that always links back to the reasons for their revolutionary period.
Where Let it Be would never be enough of a documentary to capture the rise and fall of The Beatles, at least it was not a bewildering eight hours in length. The Beatles: Get Back is. The latest feature turned miniseries from Disney+ sees Peter Jackson tackle 60 hours worth of footage and cram it down into a digestible time for those hoping to understand the fractured, confusing end of Beatlemania. Here, it is up to Jackson and the men at the heart of his footage to figure out that. The Beatles: Get Back has plenty of time to figure it out. Beautifully lit and intimate it may be, the framing and camera angles provide delicate close-ups of four men at the end of their tether. Not with each other, but with the fame, the fortune, and the glory of being so talented.
Some are born to bear the brunt of the biopic. Director Tom Hooper made a name for himself with the application of camera to history, and he did it well. The King’s Speech was solid work, and his turn to musicals with Les Misérables still offered the period piece iconography that had turned his work into something mesmerising and, crucially, entertaining. John Adams falls to the former, its mesmerising achievement here is capturing the story of the eponymous founding father. His rise to the presidency and inability to rise even higher. Detractions and deductions pave the road of Adams’ life, and with Paul Giamatti in the titular role, the core of this miniseries is complete. It is the perfect rendition of a life spent in government.
“Have I got a second series?” he dared to ask. Well, yes! A massive improvement on the first season, the second season of This Time with Alan Partridge is the best that the Partridge character has been since the heyday of the late 1990s and the early 2000s. Channelling the absurdities of conventional news programming, perfectly realising the conservative caricature that forms the character and providing an incredible variety of laugh-a-minute comedy, it’s Steve Coogan at his awkwardly calamitous finest.
Shortness, pace and style. The three core desires of A.P. Bio. Creator Mike O’Brien messes with the premeditated sitcom tones. Its light and loose development is a façade. But that is the beauty of the show. It is what makes A.P. Bio and the 20-minute turnaround not just a rare perfection, but an essential one that will drive the genre of television comedy to the next level.
But what is that next level? It is not the ultra-meta structure of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or the highbrow satisfaction of that either. Both star Glenn Howerton, though, and the ego-maniacal structure of his character is intact for both shows. He is the focus of each show, but what O’Brien focuses on, more often than not, is the reciprocation that comes after realising egomania is not the path to satisfaction. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia offers the ego unchecked, but A.P. Bio gives Howerton a strange, exciting challenge. What if his ego were actually applied properly, and the impact of such is felt well throughout the four seasons.