Catch up TV review: Michael Moore in Trumpland, Meet the Parents, How to Build a Human
James R | On 30, Oct 2016
Michael Moore in Trumpland (All 4)
Michael Moore isn’t someone you associate with moderate views. The news that he’s made a surprise Donald Trump movie in the middle of the election, then, doesn’t bring to mind a funny, respectful, kind-hearted address – but that’s exactly what we get. Moore, who for years has been the angry campaigner who made Roger & Me, has found a new maturity and calm in his later work. Where to Invade Next was a documentary full of positivity to balance out his familiar scathing criticism, a tone that flows naturally into this recorded one-man show at an Ohio theatre.
More like a stand-up comedy routine than a lecture, Moore is charming, hilarious, witty and passionate. But he’s also generous: he spends half of the act identifying with Trump supporters, acknowledging their concerns and fears, playing on the decline of the middle-class white male with sympathy as well as irony. When he gets to talking about Hillary, he first lists all of his criticisms of her, letting them get applause as well as his praises of her.
A clip of a young Donald Trump saying nice things about her is exactly the kind of smart research you expect from a veteran documentarian – the fact that he’s met them both, and filmed Trump’s comments, is testament to how well he knows his subject. But, crucially, this isn’t just a one-way speech: he lets members of the audience saying nice things about Hillary too; this isn’t an intervention, but an attempt at a shared revelation.
Moore has rarely been so personable or precise in his presentation, He expertly prods and pushes his listeners, from both sides of the voting fence, hoping to change their minds. But while we’re used to seeing comedians and campaigners heckle and harangue in equal measure, Moore does something here that many, including John Oliver, could never do: he reaches across the divide and treats his opposition as humans. It’s so easy in the current political climate to join in the ever-increasing extremes of polemic and rhetoric, but Moore’s approach is more than just a PR or political exercise: it’s a reminder that it’s still possible to have a conversation about the US election without offending or upsetting each other. It’s mature, it’s stirring and, heck, almost statesmanlike. The fact that he concludes with his own pledge to run for office is the icing on the cake. A must-watch plea for understanding and sanity, it’s one of the most welcome surprises of the year.
Meet the Parents (ITV Hub)
Dating shows are frequently some of the worst things on telly, as broadcasters and producers go to increasingly desperate lengths to keep an age-old premise fresh. Some, such as First Dates, are successful. Some, such as Take Me Out and Naked Attraction, are total bobbins. ITV’s latest effort is somewhere in between, as a contestant has to pick between three suitors, based solely on their potential parents-in-law. It’s a premise that skews closer to First Dates than Naked Attraction, relying more on intimate revelations about the people on screen than, well, intimate revelations of another kind altogether. And, while the format (including a pointless phone call-based round) is far from perfect, that honesty from mum and/or dad makes for a surprisingly wholesome twist on Blind Date. Best of all, there’s no Paddy McGuinness (or his joke) in sight.
How to Build a Human (All 4)
With the second season of Humans starting on Sunday 30th November, it’s a smart move from Channel 4 to commission this one-off documentary examining the rise of artificial intelligence in the real world. From Westworld to Humans, the subject of AI has never been more topical – and, as BBC Two’s Robot Wars proved with its brief excursions into scientific advancements, audiences have an appetite to learn more about it.
Enter Gemma Chan, who became a household name with her eerily detached performance as synth Mia in Channel 4’s Humans last year. Since Season 1, she used her icy politeness to chilling effect at the Trafalgar Studios’ production of Pinter’s The Homecoming, opposite John Simm. As this hour unfolds, it’s a treat to see her shed that persona with a warmth and enthusiasm that’s easy to like. She’s a natural for the job, creating a robotic version of herself and quizzing folks from around the world with enough familiarity with the subject, and enough screen charisma, to bridge the boundary between boffins and the general public at home. A perfect warm-up to Humans Season 2, or a fun, informative follow-up to enjoy between episodes.