Catch up TV reviews: Catastrophe, Jekyll and Hyde, Scream Queens, Release the Hounds
Ivan Radford | On 01, Nov 2015
Catastrophe: Season 2, Episode 1 (All 4)
“Sorry I called your mum a haemorrhoid…”
How do you follow up the first season of a romantic sitcom that managed the tricky task of being funny, rude, sweet and brazenly honest? Keep going.
Season 2 of Catastrophe continues the tale of Rob and Sharon as they do just that, despite the addition of another obstacle: a baby. She’s feeling down and put-upon. He’s putting up with her mother and can’t even pronounce their child’s name. It sounds so familiar on paper, but Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan make it caustically fresh on screen. thanks to a non-stop series of arguments and romantic apologies that tackle such minute issues that they become as absurdly funny as they are recognisable.
If the couple’s writing is sharp, their tongues are even more so: Rob and Sharon’s chemistry is at once natural and abrasive. If Season 1’s raunchy banter emphasised the pair’s charm, Season 2 highlights their ingenuity for insults. “You felt threatened?” exclaims Rob within the opening minutes. “What are you, a blogger?” “You’re going out,” Sharon retorts, moments later. “What are you, a teenager?”
Photo: Ed Miller
Jekyll and Hyde: Episode 1 (ITV Player)
ITV’s reworking of Jekyll and Hyde saw 459 complaints submitted to Ofcom after Episode 1, thanks to its scary and violent content. Is it too violent for the 6.30pm slot? Charlie Higson told us at a preview of the show that a lot of thought had gone into the show’s content. “Kids love horror, they love gore and death and all of that stuff,” he said. “Some of the younger kids may not.” He added that it was important “never to talk down” to young audiences.
The end result of ITV’s ambitiously dark tale manages to skip over the nasty bits and hit a tone that recalls 1930s romps more than modern horror – the fact that Tom Bateman’s doctor doesn’t transform into a literal beast, instead using his own scowling charisma to portray Hyde, is no coincidence. The emphasis on creatures other than Jekyll and Hyde only adds to the adventurously silly atmosphere – this is a monster show more than anything else and, even if the CGI monsters look a bit naff (too naff, you could argue, to be truly creepy), it’s about time Sunday evening had one of those. An hour later might not hurt, though.
Photo: DES WILLIE and JON HALL
Scream Queens: Episode 1 E4 (All 4)
Halloween has seen UK TV take a turn for the scary, from Scream the TV series on Netflix UK to ITV’s Jekyll and Hyde. Ryan Murphy, hot on the heels of his latest season of American Horror Story, now brings us a similarly scarlet-splattered piece of television: Scream Queens.
As the title suggests, this is far from serious stuff. Emma Roberts hams it up like the evil cousin of Reese Witherspoon as Chanel, the head of a sorority who bosses about her underlings (named Chanel 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) with the snobby disdain of an upper-class cow. Social satire? Hardly. But there’s an undeniable pleasure in seeing Jamie Lee Curtis as a world-weary university dean determined to take the young girl down, their catty exchanges as amusing as they are cruel.
There is plenty of gore, too, from a deep fat fryer that melts someone’s face in a way that looks like they’ve had nachos spilled on them to an inspired death sequence that takes place mostly through text messages and Twitter updates. The frantic pace of the whole thing makes up for any jokes that misfire: if the Scream TV series works because of its knowing awareness and stabs at emotional sincerity, this works because it doesn’t stop to apologise for being so gleefully over-the-top. Uproariously camp fun.
Photo: Steve Dietl / FOX
Release the Hounds: Halloween Special (ITV Player)
Every now and then, a programme comes along that’s so stupid, it’s more entertaining to watch other people watching it on Gogglebox. Release the Hounds, ITV’s latest game show, is one of them.
The series’ premise is an excellent one, if we lived in a dystopian society where people were executed on TV. Unfortunately, we don’t.
It sees contestants undertake challenges to win keys, which unlock boxes of cash for them to win for charity – but only if they can outrun a pack of “real dogs”. The contestants squeal as if it’s actually happening, even though it’s all safer than the fake jungle of I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. That juxtaposition between expensive props and sheer idiocy makes for amusing viewing, as the contestants’ reactions are laughably dumb, much like their general knowledge. (“How many brains do really smart people have?” asks one challenging question. “Shit I think it might be two, you know?” says one.)
But it also makes for an unshakeable sense of disappointment. In one challenge for the Halloween special (featuring such celebrities as Pete Bennett and Charlotte Crosby), Joey Essex is strapped to the floor as presenter Reggie Yates pretends that a TV is about to be dropped on his head. You just wish it were true.