CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Rob Lowe as a Lincolnshire cop? Cue car chases in cabbage fields
The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes
Rural Britain is in the grip of a drugs mania. And whatever the writers of Wild Bill (ITV) were smoking when they dreamed up their delusional comedy crime drama, it needs to be banned under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Hollywood actor Rob Lowe stars as hotshot Miami cop Bill Hixon who disgraced himself by beating up a teenager and, as a punishment, has been appointed Chief Constable of Lincolnshire.
It’s a grand tradition of U.S. police shows that the heroes get kicked off the force for meting out their own harsh justice, but I don’t remember Captain Dobey ever warning Starsky and Hutch: ‘You boys better wise up or I’ll have you appointed the most senior officers in some goldarn English county on six-figure salaries so fast your feet won’t touch the ground!’
Hollywood’s Rob Lowe stars as Miami cop Bill Hixon, who is re-assigned to Lincolnshire as punishment for beating up a teenager
No sooner had Bill arrived in the good old UK than he was chasing the killer in a ten-year-old murder case, with an eager detective constable (Bronwyn James) as his sidekick. Naturally, this entailed a car chase . . . in a Volvo estate . . . across a cabbage field.
The murder victim was a cannabis farmer who got decapitated by a wind turbine, and inevitably the climactic scene was a confrontation set on top of a giant windmill. Remember how actors in black-and-white movies pretended to drive cars, with a backdrop projected behind them? This didn’t look half as realistic.
Weird, dreamlike cameos were assigned to excellent actresses. Vicki Pepperdine was the mortuary pathologist with a heartless sense of humour (there’s always one), while Rachael Stirling was the local judge who doubled as a corrupt crown court barrister hiding her craving for maximum-strength marijuana.
But none of that was as strange as Lowe’s face, which looks like it has been assembled from an Airfix kit with some of the parts missing. Why hasn’t he got eyelids?
One minute this show was a slapstick send-up, with Lowe hurling cabbages like shot puts. The next it was creepier than any Scandi-noir, as a fat man in a vest serenaded the severed head in his fridge. It’s all more unbalanced than a middle-class weekend clubber out of his tiny brain on horse tranquilisers and methamphetamines.
Perhaps this will settle down; Wild Bill has plainly been made for export to the U.S. market, where viewers expect a murder to be solved in every episode, even the first one when we don’t know any of the characters.
Technicolor of the night:
All the colours are vivid in Summer Of Rockets (BBC2), but Toby Stephens as inventor Samuel Petrukhin looks as though his wig and beard have been applied with spray paints. Does he share a hair stylist with Donald Trump?
I’m not hooked, though. Drug-addled it may be, but Wild Bill isn’t very addictive.
The stars of The Restaurant That Makes Mistakes (C4) made far more sense, even though they all had varying forms of dementia. This four-part documentary follows the efforts of Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton to set up a first-rate eaterie in Bristol, offering jobs as waiters, bar staff and cooks to people with Alzheimer’s and similar brain diseases.
Comedian David Baddiel, an ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society and the restaurant’s first customer, summed it up smartly: ‘The fact that people are not perfect is no reason to throw them on the scrapheap.’
Some of the vignettes were heartbreaking. We met Avril, aged 63, once a brilliant obstetrician who now couldn’t remember her husband’s first name. Former lorry driver Roger, 64, used to deliver tyres to F1 pit teams, but he struggled to bring a round of drinks to a table.
It was sadly undermined by Channel 4’s perennial instinct to snigger — all plinky-plonk soundtrack with the emphasis on blunders.