Each week, a member of the Herald's TimeOut entertainment team reveals what's floating their boat. Today, Chris Reed.
This Time With Alan Partridge
I don't think this BBC series has been on telly here. It is, however, on Air New Zealand long-haul flights, because I upset fellow passengers on the way to LA by laughing too much. I love Alan Partridge. My first wife once said, "I didn't marry a man, I married Alan Partridge." Which is a good insult, although technically incorrect. Steve Coogan's character, a TV and radio broadcaster who can be excruciating, blunt, tactless and occasionally insightful, sometimes in the same sentence, is well into the second phase of its almost 30-year life, with fresh writers providing new impetus. This latest series is a brilliant, layered work yielding new laughs with every viewing. Partridge is drafted in to co-host a Seven Sharp-style magazine show when the regular host falls seriously ill. It's his first tilt at national telly since he accidentally shot dead a guest on air and punched his boss with a frozen turkey. Will he make the most of the opportunity? A great entry point for newcomers, yet another high point for fans.
Lou Reed: A Life
Don't worry if you don't know much about Reed's musical oeuvre beyond the very best-known tracks. Anthony DeCurtis' exhaustive 2017 biography (the kind of treatment Reed "deserved", apparently) makes it clear he didn't sell that many records, certainly in relation to his renown. But if you're wondering why his renown is as it is, remember he basically invented alternative rock with the Velvet Underground. DeCurtis is a big fan and knew Reed, as much as one could, in his latter years. His treatment reflects that, with a largely sympathetic take on the worst aspects of his behaviour. I usually speed-read the early parts of music bios stuff until I get to the showbiz heft. In this case, I enjoyed the section on the formative years the most — they go some way to explaining Reed's character, although he strikes me as someone it would be hard to like. Fun fact: my wife is called Lou(ise) Reed and I proposed to her while a Reed song played (Perfect Day, rather than Heroin).
A fictionalised account of the cause of the 1987 international stock market crash, Black Monday is a diverting and ultimately enjoyable dramedy carried by the performances of the always dependable Don Cheadle and Regina Hall. The humour careers from style to style — not all of it to my taste — but it kept me going to the end, not least because the episodes are pleasingly bite-sized. It's a period piece complete with 80s artefacts and fashion and no little nod to the cocaine-fuelled madness of The Wolf of Wall Street. It's on Neon now, with a second series on the way next year.
Clinton Baptiste's Paranormal Podcast
Believers will, of course, disagree, but for everyone else, the world of psychics is ripe for comedic send-up. Clinton Baptiste was a memorable one-off character in Phoenix Nights, a sitcom created by arena-filling UK stand-up Peter Kay. So memorable that he's now the star of two series of his own podcast. Featuring cod-mystic mumbo jumbo, spoof phone-ins and Ghost Hunters-style parodies, Baptiste (Alex Lowe) helms a show that manages to make a familiar subject snort-out-loud funny.