Catch up TV review: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Maigret’s Dead Man, The Arrivals, A Big LEGO Christmas, Cooke & Moore’s Missing Sketches
Ivan Radford | On 01, Jan 2017
Peter Cook & Dudley Moore: The Missing Sketches (All 4)
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore made 22 episodes of Not Only… But Also. Eight of them survived the TV industry’s house-keeping procedures of the time, which saw most tapes re-used to save on costs and resources. What a treat, then, to discover that someone has found several tapes that haven’t been wiped after all. Buried in Australia’s ABC TV archives, they contain several clips – nine sketches in total – that were once thought lost altogether. Here, we get to see them (or bits of them) for the first time since they were broadcast in the UK. Complete with observations from comedians such as Richard Ayoade and actor/director/writer Will Sharpe (Flowers), you get everything from an insight into the struggle of directing the duo – the cameras would be kept wide with both in frame, because they were so unpredictable to film – to the joy of seeing two comedy legends back in action. If you’re a fan of their work, or of comedy in general, this is essential viewing – fascinating, fun and informative.
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (All 4)
“There’s nothing wrong with being sad. It’s just a way of remembering the happy times.” Who doesn’t have fond memories of being read We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, or reading it to your own kids? Michael Rosen, a veritable national treasure of poetry and children’s literature, crafted something brilliantly simple in his picture book, which celebrated adventure and revelled in onomatopoeia. Turning that simplicity into a 30-minute story is a challenge, but this Channel 4 animation (from the people who adapted Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman and The Snowman and The Snowdog) does a brilliantly graceful job.
Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations are brought to life with a beautifully faithful eye, while Rosen’s familiar chant is a joy to hear out loud – particularly when our young heroes start changing the words to “poo hunt”. But the added runtime comes from a hint of melancholy that underpins the whole affair, as we join the kids after the loss of their grandad – a sad passing that is echoed by the bear’s own lack of friends, as we see him, after their hunt, trudge back to his cave alone. It’s just enough to add a poignant note to a familiar tale, but not enough to overshadow the happiness on-screen elsewhere, from sloshing through mud to the children making music with their parents. The sadness at the end? That only makes those happy memories all the brighter. Charming stuff.
The Arrivals (All 4)
If you’re a fan of Love Actually’s opening sequence, which sees Hugh Grant waffle on about people reuniting at Heathrow Airport, Channel 4’s one-off programme is for you. Essentially stretching out the introduction of Love Actually to 60 minutes, the result is a predictably slushy montage of friends hugging, new couples seeing if they can manage a long-distance relationship and families greeting relatives. The soundtrack makes it clear you’re meant to shed a tear. If you’ve been at the leftover mulled wine while catching up on festive telly, you might well do. If not, this mindlessly sentimental piece of filmmaking borders a little too much on the manipulative side.
A Big LEGO Christmas (All 4)
LEGO opened its biggest ever store in London this Christmas and Channel 4 was there to follow the build-up. The result has some interesting behind-the-scenes glimpses of LEGO designers in action – professional brick master Duncan is crafting a gigantic replica of Tower Bridge, while another has produced a machine that can turn any photo into a build-it-yourself LEGO mosaic kit. But attempts at human interest, from the people applying to work there to the minor hiccups that beset the grand unveiling to queues of fans, can’t turn this hour-long programme into anything more than an advert for LEGO’s new shop. A missed opportunity.
Maigret’s Dead Man (ITV Hub)
After a lacklustre debut outing at Easter 2016, ITV brings back its new incarnation of Maigret for another case. This time, Georges Simenon’s iconic sleuth finds himself investigating a series of murders in the Picardie countryside. Could they possibly be linked to the murder of someone who had contacted Maigret before being bumped off? There are no points for guessing the answer, because this whole story is immediately predictable, not least because we spend a lot of time following the bad guy independently of our protagonist. It’s not about the who or how, but the why, fans of the detective might argue, but there’s sadly not enough substance to anyone on screen here to keep us interested. Alas, not even Rowan Atkinson has found his feet in the titular role yet. Continuing to exercise a deliberately low-key presence, Atkinson goes too far in his study of restraint; he speaks so softly that it’s almost like watching him narrate a two-hour perfume advert.
If the acting and script are all perfectly mediocre, though, this second Maigret drama does make one big improvement upon 2016’s effort: it looks fantastic. Maigret Sets a Trap never quite convinced as a tale actually taking place in France, but here, director Jon East goes to town on the visuals, cherry-picking his Budapest locations to echo period Paris and crafting some gorgeous set pieces, from policemen charging up shadowy flights of stairs to red signs lighting up sinister faces. If the rest of the production can follow suit, Maigret may yet impress.
Photo: TX TV LIMITED FOR ITV