Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas on the Box 2013

Only because it is something I have done every year, I suppose I should comment on the movies available on British television over the Christmas period, although I find it harder and harder each year to work up much enthusiasm over the schedules. The Christmas box this year bears little resemblance to an exciting box that you might find under the tree, crammed full of goodies or unexpected pleasures.

As usual there are a plethora of terrestrial premieres, but not a great deal to get excited about. There are actually several films I myself have not seen -- out of goodness knows how many films overall, but only two of which have me experiencing any sort of anticipatory pleasure -- more on those below. To suggest viewing from the remainder is not an easy task, since most of the movies left me underwhelmed when I viewed them. Among the most promising (if you've not already seen them) are "Never Let Me Go" (Channel 4 on the 22nd), both parts of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" (ITV on the 26th and New Year's Day), just maybe "Pirates of the Caribbean, on Stranger Tides" -- aka Pirates 4 (BBC1 on the 29th, and three animations: the brilliant "Toy Story 3" (BBC1 on Christmas Day,  "Megamind" (BBC1 on the 27th) and "Kung Fu Panda 2" (BBC1 on New Year's Day). There is also the terrestrial premiere -- believe it or not -- of Disney's classic "Fantasia" (BBC2 on Christmas Eve) -- but is there anyone out there that hasn't seen it or purchased the DVD?

Among the other terrestrial premieres, I suppose some people will want to view "Michael Jackson's This is It" (Channel 5 on Christmas Day), but it's really for die-hard fans only. Others like "Cars 2", "I am Number Four", "The Resident", and "Vampires Suck" are hardly worth your time.The balance of the schedules are loaded with old favourites like "It's a Wonderful Life", "An American in Paris", "The Red Shoes", "Singin' in the Rain", and "The Wizard of Oz" which are all worthy of a second or third or fiftieth view. Mind you, I read a columnist recently who wrote that one should not bemoan the lack of new offerings on TV, when all one really wants after the intensive feasting and boozing of the period, is to lay back and have a snooze while any of the above air.

What distresses me the most is the lack of imaginative planning. There are virtually no 'seasons' of themed films, although BBC4 is showing a selection of Ealing comedies, ITV have planned a run of Harry Potter flicks, and BBC are showing the first two "Toy Story" flicks as a prelude to number three. There is also nothing much in the way of more obscure 'Golden Oldies' (for golden oldies like me), and virtually a complete absence of foreign language movies. Seriously, the thought that goes into the schedules seems more and more unimaginative every year. Even the listing programmes with which Channel 4 used to cram their schedules have degenerated to "Greatest Ever Christmas Movies" (Channel 5 on Christmas Eve) and "50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments" (!!!) (ITV on New Year's Day).

As usual of course I shall watch most of the movies I've not seen previously, but I draw the line at Sammy the animated turtle. Of these I hold out little hope for "Abduction" starring the muscle-bound Taylor Lautner, or Australian killer-croc movie "Rogue", or the animated "Gnomeo and Juliet", or the Black hair-products documentary "Good Hair". I am however curious to see "Drive" on BBC2 to discover why there is all the fuss nowadays about good- actor-morphed-into-hunk Ryan Gosling. I am also keen to see "Sightseers" on Film Four on the 26th, although that channel's premieres are largely uninteresting (I can just about recommend "Troll Hunter" onXmas Day for unfestive viewing!). One's better off sticking with their re-runs of Japanese animations.

As for good old Sky, their holiday premieres include "A Good Day to Die Hard" (something of a disappointment I've heard), "Oz the Great and Powerful" (overblown I suspect), "Wreck-It Ralph" (who knows?), "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (mildly intriguing), and the money-spinning "Iron Man 3" (which of course I have previously seen and reviewed). Never mind between visiting with family and the aforesaid eating and drinking, there will be more than enough to keep your faithful viewer entertained. And should there be any down time, there are a couple of good Christmas ghost dramas on BBC2 and my ever-growing backlog of unviewed DVDs.

I'm not sure when I shall next put pen to paper (or in this instance fingers to keyboard), so let me take the opportunity to wish you all holiday joy and a super 2014.
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