It’s been a good week for TV. Bake Off’s back, for starters. Most of the week’s been focused around that hype, but it’s also been good for new binges (hey, The Flash), actual documentaries, and old and new movies. There’s almost one of everything in here.
The aforementioned new binge, it has to be said, has come along as an alternative to the last one: I’ve apparently replaced Arrow with The Flash. This is at least partly to do with the fact that series three Arrow is a bit dire from the very beginning – everyone’s profoundly miserable; Olicity aren’t able to get together (and those crazy kids need to get together); and there’s a major character death in the opening episode. The first series of The Flash by comparison is pretty chirpy – half of Barry’s drama is being 25 and having an intense crush on a girl he can’t be with – and, having watched it all before, I’m not struggling to warm to the characters any more because I’m already there. The meta of the week stuff might not be especially original (it does have its moments, though, as Barry flexes his powers) and the main villain arc is barely established this early on, but it’s got its fun little moments and its nice relationships, and it’s propelling me along with it.
The return of The Great British Bake Off was, naturally, glorious. Bake Off has always been a show about more than baking – there’s a certain degree of entertainment in seeing madly elaborate constructions made out of cake, sure, but there’s far more entertainment in the characters. The contestants are all so pleasingly normal, and Bake Off always captures the best of them – helping each other out, supporting each other, celebrating Star Baker and commiserating with the person who leaves. I’ve already got my faves (Selasi and Candice, obviously), but I would happily spend time with any of them. And that’s the magic of Bake Off.
One such incredible, personable contestant is Nadiya Hussain, last year’s winner (and deliverer of the one of the most emotional victory speeches I’ve ever heard). I love Nadiya so much. For this reason, it’s an absolute joy that she’s got her own show now – and it’s even more heartwarming that it’s called The Chronicles of Nadiya (seriously, I hope whoever came up with that title took the rest of the day off). It’s a travelogue of Bangladesh, as Nadiya goes to explore the country which is part of her heritage. The first episode is fascinating, as Nadiya returns to the village her family calls home. She’s such a good presenter, and discusses her faith, her family, and food in detail, with great warmth and spirit. Travelling alone is a huge deal for her, as is returning to Bangladesh, and the weight of that seems apparent but doesn’t hold her back.
Then in films, I’ve had another trip to the IMAX to finally see Star Trek Beyond, just when I thought that it had left cinemas. Star Trek Beyond, now the third film in the rebooted Star Trek franchise, feels like it has the tone I want to see from these movies nailed far more than Into Darkness (even if I actually didn’t hate it) – it’s a heap of fun, with nice nods to the other movies (there’s a song choice which properly made me smile) and plenty of opportunities for entertaining and engaging character interactions. With the Enterprise’s crew separated fairly early on in the film, there’s the chance for different pairings to work together – Bones and Spock, Kirk and Chekov, Scotty and new character Jaylah (Sofia Boutella, who’s really, really good) – and on the whole they work really well, especially with Bones and Spock. It’s these interactions which are the film’s main strength, though, because otherwise it’s a little muddled. It’s sometimes hard to discern what’s happening to whom in the larger action set pieces (entertaining though they are), and the main plot itself is only really clarified very, very close to the end of the movie. It is fortunate, then, that the film can boast these relationships, ‘cause they’re the driving force through the narrative – and they’ll be the scenes that stick in the memory.
10 Things I Hate About You was the best way to end the week, and I now know that I’ve never given this film enough credit before. Aside from being really funny, and an interesting way of adapting Shakespeare, it’s really well constructed. Gags aren’t just verbal but visual (Cameron pulling up on his basket-clad bike amid a biker gang). It’s edited really nicely, too – the three different central storylines (Kat and Patrick, Cameron and Bianca, Cameron and Michael) cross, and part, and meet so brilliantly. I’ve adored this film ever since I saw it the first time, but that was mainly because I fancied the hell out of Patrick Verona – it’s quite heartening to see it as a nailed-on classic too (and to still appreciate Patrick Verona).