Friday, 4 July 2008

BBC Breakfast Watch! Almost Not FAIL For Once?

I come not to bury BBC Breakfast, but to praise it! And bury it a little. Nothing big or particularly memorable, and nothing to justify a post, but it did do one thing very well this morning; make me excited about the Doctor Who season four finale. I won't say too much about it all because the thrill of being caught out by the penultimate episode was so great I wouldn't want to ruin it for any non-UK fans stumbling across this blog, but let's just say, I think about 9 million Brit Who fans are in a state of extreme freak-out-itude over the last episode.

That penultimate episode was mostly horrible, with all sorts of hilarious dialogue about Osterhagen Keys, Project Indigo, and oh Christ, yet more stupid alien languages and dire crazytalk (was Dalek James Caan secretly Drusilla in disguise?), the ever-awesome MARTHA JONES handicapped with an unflattering semi-Hitler hairdo, not to mention Penelope Wilton being annoying and Billie Piper's peculiar mouth distortion still going unexplained, plus lots of shots of her with a ludicrous spacegun, none of which helped dispel my general antipathy to all things Rose Tyler (and wow, we've got the return of her mom and useless Mickey to look forward to? Someone restrain me before I bite off my tongue with excitement).

Luckily it was saved by many superbly integrated references to previous episodes that seemed to hint that perhaps Russell T. Davies had been planning this finale all along, some top crossover moments, some all-time great line readings from John Barrowman at his most wonderfully Barrowmanesque, Richard Dawkins' cameo, and the knowledge that Canyon's least favourite Who villains weren't ruined by that godawful Daleks Take Manhattan two parter in season three. She even got excited enough to shout at the screen with joy (sample quote, "Yay! Torchwood is going to be destroyed! Go Daleks! Exterminate them all! Except Captain Jack, of course.").

The show highlight, though, was the final scene, featuring the best cliffhanger of the year. Massive, massive, kudos to the BBC for managing to keep that unbelievably big surprise under wraps; I doubt anyone knew it was coming up, and the press blackout for tomorrow's denouement has been total, as far as I can tell (I'm not about to go looking for spoilers). I salute you, as does the ever-dashing Captain Jack and the Duh Twins.

Anyway, BBC Breakfast interviewed Freema Agyeman again this morning (she seems to be unofficial spokesman for the show, as she has been on before), and she was as endearingly enthusiastic about the show as ever. She even keeps it up when talking about Torchwood. Miraculous! Obviously she was asked about a thousand times as to the outcome of that brilliant cliffhanger by hosts Charlie Stayt and Susanna Reid, and Freema kept totally shtum. That was to be expected. What did please me was the unfaked enthusiasm of all of them. It was infectious and exciting, and nothing like the usual indifferent puff pieces that pollute the airwaves in the morning. It made me even more anxious to see the finale, which is just the sort of thing these interviews should be doing. It was a rare moment of competence.

Of course, it was not perfect. Freema was in happiness mode, but Charlie, who had already turned an inconsequential interview with James Alexandrou (promoting a play) into a dour interrogation about the awful wave of knife crime currently blighting the UK, did the same with MARTHA JONES. It was the same whiplash tonal shift from, "ZOMG what will happen to the Doctor?!?!" to, "What do you think about these recent tragic deaths?" It was a question aimed at her more because of her age than her ethnic background, I think. At least I hope so. If Alexandrou got asked too it seems they think that everyone under 25 who isn't employed by the BBC is a blade-wielding scumbag or has a valuable perspective on blade-wielding scumbags, so I'll give them a break on that. Poor Freema had to downshift her mood accordingly, and amusingly praised the C4 drama Fallout instead of talking about the Beeb's coverage of same (which is nothing like as bold as the Disarming Britain season on the alternative channel).

Still, it was a rare human moment on the show that didn't involve stupidity, ineptitude, or luddite yammerings. Congrats where congrats are due. Normal service (i.e. missed cues, fear of the future, Bill Turnbull lowering the world average IQ by about 100 points) will be resumed immediately.

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