Brian Donaldson finds some warm surprises, crushing disappointments and old familiars within the schedules
As tragic as Rod Hull’s death was (falling off his roof while attempting to fix the TV aerial), it’s not a patch on seeing his son flailing around to try and recapture the old man’s glory. When Toby Hull first walks into view with the patched-up Emu (STV, Sat 20 Oct, 10.20am ••), it seems patently obvious that he’d rather be somewhere else. Anywhere else but here, sticking his hand up a furry legend’s behind. While his motivation seems negligible, this is not the worst thing about the all-new Emu, as the sidekick kids have zero presence and the plot makes Chucklevision seem like Crime and Punishment.
As the latest batch of Comedy Labs reaches us, the pick of the bunch is Doug Stanhope, Go Home (Channel 4, Fri 26 Oct, 11.35pm ••••). While the pottymouth slurring of the man who threatened to run for the White House is not, as some of his disciples will claim, to be comedy’s Second Coming, he undoubtedly shines in this half-hour tirade against race hatred. Interspersed with his trademark firebrand stand-up routine recorded in Edinburgh’s Caves, he confronts a BNP activist outside Ibrox, meets Polish workers finding flaws with potatoes in a farm near Perth and tackles stereotypical bigots on Scottie McClue’s radio show. Naturally, he has his own vile sentiments to get over on occasion, but on this showing at least, the core of Stanhope contains a warm spirit with a previously hidden humanity oozing from every noxious pore.
Meanwhile, C4’s current explosion of one-off comedy shows includes Blowout (Channel 4, Sat 27 Oct, 11.30pm ••) which platforms some of Scotland’s circuit comics in an inevitably patchy sketch show format. Susan Calman, Greg McHugh and Will Andrews (better known to local stand-up fans as the hapless Geordie hyperbomb, Tony Carter) are all in here as we get horribly written, admirably performed material about sexual water sports, men coping badly with domestic chores and the kind of puffed-up yet ineffectual doctor that we’ve seen many times before from Aussie romp Let the Blood Run Free to Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. If ever there was an aptly-titled show, this is it.
And so, it’s with a sad heart that we come to the finale of The Sopranos (E4, Sun 21, 28 Oct, 10.30pm •••••). Will AJ snap out of his black hole? Is Paulie still a loyal capo or plotting away in the background? Can Carmela keep a brave face within her moral vacuum? Will Tony be the last mobster standing? And of course, will TV ever be the same again? Well, of course not.