Catch up TV review: The Day We Walked on the Moon, GameFace S2, Extreme Tribe, The Invention of Boris Johnson
Ivan Radford | On 21, Jul 2019
The Day We Walked on the Moon (ITV Hub)
“We haven’t been back for half a century, but those who watched will never forget… the day we walked on the moon.” Those are words of Mark Strong, who narrates this documentary that wins the prize for Least Subtle Use of a Film’s Title in 2019 to date. It’s a sign of just how cheesy TV can get, and ITV’s special look back at the events of 1969 certainly isn’t afraid of a little fromage. It lines up everyone from Professor Brian Cox to Neil Armstrong’s son to talk about the historic achievement, while throwing in every possible period pop song you could wish for – and, in one combination of the two, Queen’s Dr. Brian May pops up for a comment. Michael Collins, who stayed in orbit as Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong went down in the Apollo 11 lunar module, has some insight to offer, but this is a largely unsurprising, conventional affair, especially when placed next to Channel 4’s more adventurous Moon Landing Live and BBC Two’s experimental 8 Days: To the Moon and Back. Still, if you need a quick recap of the moon landing in an hour max, this is just the ticket.
GameFace: Season 2 (All 4)
Decidedly less conventional is Roisin Conaty, who is on fabulous form as she returns for another season of awkward escapades, dubious decisions and reckless attempts at adulting. She plays Marcella, a woman determined to improve her life but with no idea of how to go about doing so. In this enjoyably prickly, amusingly frank first episode, she passes a driving test, only to lie about doing so to try and keep seeing her driving instructor, Jon – the brilliant touch being that she doesn’t consider the possibility that he might well want to keep seeing her regardless. There’s no simple solution or happy ending in sight here, as things go from cringe-worthy to worse, but there are laughs and caustic one-liners aplenty, and an honesty to Conaty’s writing and performance that positions things uncomfortably (but enjoyably) close to home.
Extreme Tribe: The Last Pygmies (All 4)
Livia Simoka brings a fresh-faced appeal to Channel 4’s landmark nature documentary, which takes us insight a pygmy tribe that’s almost entirely cut off from the outside world. Some moments of the series veer into exotic curio territory, but there’s a genuine effort by Livia (whose presence must be somewhat jarring) to get to know the ways of the Mbendjele, from their warring with a nearby tribe (Livia made sensationalist news headlines with a moment where she interrupts proceedings – an interesting ethical dilemma in itself) to local medical treatment and a moment where they hunt wildlife for their food. Throughout, Simoka comes across as genuine and the eye-opening reminder of how much life can differ around the world has cultural value.
The Invention of Boris Johnson (All 4)
With the moon landings dominating TV schedules, it’s almost possible to forget that the Conservative Party is about to vote for its new leader, who will, in turn, become the UK’s new Prime Minister. Before that vote takes place, this superbly timed Channel 4 documentary digs into the man behind the persona of Boris Johnson – or, more exactly, the lack of a person behind that persona. Tracing his ambition to obtain the most powerful office possible, we track not only his blethering blunders and gusto-filled gaffes, but also his chameleonic appreciation of the importance of the media, publicity and appearing mostly harmless. It’s a compelling portrait that’s well edited to include the revealing moments between the moments that he wants the public to see – all mostly in his own words.