JINGS, here’s a dilemma: who’s my favourite among the Girls, the new and much-hyped New York-set sitcom written, produced, directed and starring hotter-than-hot Lena Dunham and overseen by comedy kingmaker Judd Apatow?
Could it be Dunham’s character Hannah, who dreams of being a great novelist but has just been set adrift financially by her parents and so must fend for herself in the big city, a place of bad boyfriends who are into dodgy role-playing?
Could it be Marnie, who’s beautiful enough to sit behind a desk in an art gallery like a living exhibit, which is indeed what she does here, and who doesn’t have bad boyfriends but ones who are good – over-good – and nibble at her wrists and use “make love” instead of more exciting terminology and even stumble over that?
Or could it be Jessa, who says things like “You’re so self-absorbed. I’m not a character from one of your novels – stop staring at my face so hard!” as if she’s not also self-absorbed? Or maybe Shoshanna, perhaps the least fully-formed of the four at this stage, although she’s just shocked the others by ’fessing up to being a virgin at 22? Whatdyaknow? I like ’em all.
The “Whatdyaknow?” tells me this. I appear to be talking in that quick, jivey Noo Yoik way after just the opening double-bill. When I approve of a show it seems I copy its language. This is why you’ll never find “forsooth” or “quince jam” on this page because I don’t like Downton Abbey. Girls, though, got off to a real neat start (there I go again). The first episode was fairly underwhelming, then first eps often are. But from the moment, early in the second, when Hannah’s mother screamed “I want a lakehouse! I want to sit by a f*****g lake!” I was into it.
The obvious comparison is Sex And The City. Dunham knows this so she has Shoshanna say: “I’m definitely a Carrie at heart but sometimes my Samantha comes out.” Then she has Marnie say: “Pur-leeze, I’ve seen Heathers, like, 12 times. That’s basically why I moved to New York.”
Clueless has also been namechecked and you might wonder why US audiences have got so excited by Girls. It’s probably because Dunham, at least, doesn’t look like she got down to the final three of America’s Next Top Stick-Insect and is happy for the cameras to see this. Girls will seem less revolutionary to us, but already there’s been much to enjoy, not least Hannah’s epic inappropriateness at a job interview and an STD clinic. Funniest, female-led, Big Apple-based comedy of 2012? Actually, no: that prize has already gone to 2 Broke Girls.
At last, the reality-show gaze is fixed on the North Sea again. The Harbour is Aberdeen’s, 40-odd miles south of the Trawlermen’s Peterhead and therefore that bit closer to warmer waters, and maybe Jimmy Buchan and his cronies from the previous show regard this as North Sea Lite but it looked forbidding enough for your avowed big-jessie landlubber, especially when the haar rolled in.
In the opener we entered the world of the saturation diver, or divers, because they all work in pairs. It can go one of two ways, said Terry Dearlove. When the job’s done, either you never want to see the other guy again, ever, or you don’t want to let him go. “Come on,” joked Terry to his newest mate, “let’s go to bed.” (At least I think he was joking). Already two contenders for The Harbour’s biggest character have shown themselves and both speak very much in the vernacular.
Boatman Alan Couper has had a varied life. “Afore this I was in M:I,” he claimed, “and afore that I was a male stripper.” Out of shot, a colleague quipped: “And afore that you were an alcoholic.” Celebrity, if it comes Couper’s way, shouldn’t faze him. “Once I spent the hale weekend with fit-dae-you-cry-him…Jerry Springer.”
Then there’s Val Morrison, officially barmaid at the Crown & Anchor pub but much more besides. “You’re a maw, sister, agony-aunt, a’thing,” she said, casting an eye over her regulars, hurrying stragglers back on to the boats and slapping the baldy heids of the cheeky ones.
My heart started sinking mere seconds into Brazil With Michael Palin when our host described one of the few places on earth not to have been stamped on his passport as “a melting pot of peoples”.
I used to enjoy Palin’s programmes but haven’t in a while. He was the Ferdinand Magellan of globetrotting funsters; now they’re all at it. I was perfectly happy when all telly traveloguery was the responsibility of Alan Whicker and was about to say that he never used a cliché like “melting pot”. Then I remembered Palin and Python’s brilliant spoofing of the great man.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Monday 20 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 21 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west