Time In: TV Reviews

Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray is a celebrity cook. She now has a chat show. But crucially, Rachael Ray is the perkiest human being alive. Post apocalypse, she could be standing in the charred rubble of a smoldering planet, staring up at the slate-coloured sky of the nuclear winter that’s set to envelop the few surviving members of mankind for the rest of their short lives and she’d simply chirp: ‘Hey Mister Sunshine! Let’s see your smiling face today because that would be sooo neat!’ This would be no surprise however, as her DNA is 97 per cent identical to a big Easter bonnet full of puppies and kittens. She’s the human equivalent of the theme tune from Friends and is 38 years old but only looks half that age. And no matter how hard I want to, how cynical I am, I find it impossible to dislike her. There are entire websites dedicated to hating this woman, this culinary Scrappy Doo, but if you have even the smallest spark of warmth in your heart you just can’t. She’s too nice. Her chat show is niceness personified too. After three programs on the Food Network, a Martha Stewart-esque magazine (Every Day With Rachael Ray) and 12 simple-to-follow cookbooks, the celebrity chef has finally got her daytime chat show. She describes it as an ‘unpredictable hour of fun that celebrates the can-do spirit in every person and gives viewers the essentials for whole-hearted living.’ It’s only unpredictable because Rachael herself gets things wrong or bursts into fits of giggles but the rest is about right. When it comes to cooking everything’s ‘yum-o!’ or ‘delish!’ and her catchphrase is seemingly, ‘how cool is that?’. Dr Phil drops by in the kitchen, so does Oprah – which is no surprise as Oprah is the puppet master behind this whole perk-athon, but it still becomes niceness-squared. There’s nothing gritty here at all. For example, Dennis Nilsen is unlikely to be a guest if he gets parole in 2008. You won’t get heated political debates about terrorism, but Michael Bolton does play his terrifying new single – Rachael, honey, you’re testing my patience with that one – but it’s only fluffy TV. Nothing more, nothing less. And if you hate it, somewhere a kitten cries.

What About Brian
Brian, what about the question mark? No matter, lack of basic grammar is the least of this new comedy/drama’s problems. Seemingly an update of the late-80s drama Thirtysomething, this is the story of Brian, who hangs out with his friends as they all pose and pout look like a GAP clothing catalogue bought to life. But his friends are all couples and even though he’s in his 30s, he’s still single. Oh the horror. And he’s in love with his mate’s fiancée – which is understandable as she’s played by Sarah Lancaster – but that’s essentially the story right there. If you’re going to be drawn into to a series then you’ll have to love, or love to hate, the characters, but the ones here (especially Brian himself) are just too bland. At best he’s reminiscent of those annoyingly new-man sensitive types who play Extreme’s ‘More Than Words’ on an acoustic guitar at student parties to try to get women. And at worst it’s like watching the real life adventures of Millhouse van Houten from The Simpsons yearning after Lisa. To be fair to Brian and his mannequin friends, there are occasionally a few nice touches . In the second episode, it’s doubted that Brian will get on with a potential date because of her ‘lack of familiarity with This Is Spinal Tap’. But if all the world’s a stage, the self-obsessed cast are still wandering about trying to find it, and the occasional miniature Stonehenge of a joke that descends once in a while isn’t enough to make this show rock. Clearly targeted at female dominated Grey’s Anatomy audience, women who like to discuss their feelings may really enjoy this, but most normal, single, 30-something blokes will just shrug and say, ‘Brian lad, so your soul mate’s going out with another guy – shut up, join the club and have a beer. Hey look, The Sopranos is on.’

U R rly pssd off @ all da txt spk 2? Good, not just me then. But don’t let the mangling of letters and numbers in the title put you off. For a start, it’s not text speak it’s Leet (look it up on Wikipedia) and this is actually a decent series. FBI Special Agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) and his maths-genius brother, Charlie (David Krumholtz), develop formulae to predict the actions of various criminals. Whoa, easy there, Poindexter. Maths you say? But fear not, this isn’t some nerd fantasy, it’s a rather clever twist on the CSI genre with numbers replacing forensics. Those who paid attention to Time Out’s advice and tuned in for the re-runs of Northern Exposure will recognice Rob Morrow as he again takes the lead here. Judd Hirsch plays the brother’s father and Peter MacNicol (John Cage from Ally McBeal) is their physicist friend. It’s a decent cast. The time of the maverick cop who does it his way (after his partner died with only one day until retirement) are over. The huge success of CSI means that the actual practices of the police and FBI are being used as the basis of cop shows, even if we have to suspend some of our disbelief as they cram the whole case into 45 minutes. This is a logical extension of that and it looks like the boffins are onto a winn3r here.

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