Radiation by Fiona Rae

The universe is alive with life, okay?

Do programmes like Andromeda exist to make other programmes like The O.C. look good? How about this little gem from last week’s Andromeda on Sky 1, the show that Kevin Sorbo swapped Hercules’ leather pants for: “The universe is alive with life!” proclaimed some spooky alien chick with shiny makeup. Kev: “And death too.”

The universe is alive with death? R-i-iiii-ght. By contrast, The O.C. (TV2 Friday night) was funny, clever and self-referential in that post-90210 way that Aaron Spelling never dreamed of. OC girl Summer was going ga-ga over the star of a TV show called “The Valley”, which starred a guy very much like her real boyfriend, Seth.

Seth is worried that if Summer has to chose between the TV-star him and the real him, she’d chose the TV-star version. Naturally, this leads to a party with strippers in LA after warnings from Seth’s father (“That town will eat you!”). Paris Hilton is there and has a conversation with Seth about Pynchon: “Gravity’s Rainbow is his masterpiece!” Heh heh. Now that’s funny.

Speaking of funnies, Angel has been hysterical, if you think a normally morose vampire with a soul singing “Oh Jasmine” along to the tune of “Mandy” is funny.

Thanks to Jolisa for pointing out this story about a reality show Bridezilla biting back. The June 11 Entertainment Weekly mentioned in that story also includes a rundown of the summer’s shows in the US – traditionally a time for dross, so a lot are reality. How about Extreme Dodgeball (okay, maybe that’s more like WWE); Into Character, where Ordinary Joes and Janes take part in re-enactments of their favourite films, like a triumphant run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum, a la Rocky; and Next Action Star, which will manufacture, like American Idol, a movie star. The two winners, a man and a woman, take part in a TV movie exec-produced by Joel Silver. There’s also the Ashlee Simpson Show, in which Jessica’s lil’ sis makes a record.

In another twist on the genre, Joe Schmo 2 is a faux reality series, in which contestants think they’re on a dating show, but they’re surrounded by actors improvising as reality TV stereotypes like “the playa” and the “gotta-be-gay-guy”. Woah, that’s like Ali G or something.

There is one good thing – Graham Norton is doing a US version of his talk show. He told EW his dream guest would be Madonna, although the Madonna of about six years ago … “Kabbalah – how dull does that sound?”

And Jolisa also points out this hot news in the US, which will be of interest to Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine) fans. Also, this story from the Washington Post.

Along with The Cuteness and Suzy Cato, there’s been a nomination for Hi-5 (“After all, it’s the reason Hi-5 videos sell,” says Robert.) This is beginning to sound like a perverted trend. I can see you guys at home: “Hey kids, let’s watch Hi-5!” “But Dad! We’re 23!”

Hannah really likes The Secret Life of Us too:

… far better than The Insiders Guide to Happiness. The Insiders ... is not bad for a locally-made program but they don't get it quite right like Secret Life. Anyway, if anyone else has a good collection of Secret Life I would love to borrow, as there are a few that I missed.

Ooh, The Insiders damned with faint praise. It is influenced by Secret Life (the writer said so in an interview), but I think it’s doing different things. Diana Wichtel said it right when she called it “television of unease”, an echo of Sam Neill’s phrase “cinema of unease”. We often do make melancholy film and TV and I like Insiders for it. Have you noticed the green lighting? Just to add to that sombre air.

Speaking of mad and melancholy, I’m thinking Perfect Strangers would have been better as a sort of Amelie-style comedy, rather than the barmy, unhinged love story it is. Ah well, Sam gets to star in his own cinema of unease story again.

Reasons to be cheerful: Black Books’ third series starts on July 8. Here’s an Observer story about Dylan Moran; and I have to guiltily admit to liking What Not to Wear, which returns July 9. Is it my imagination, or are there a lot of women around now with bootleg trousers, pointy shoes and short, tucked-in-at-the-waist jackets? It’s not a bad thing. They look nice. The Beeb website has an excellent guide to figuring out what to wear – just bang in your body shape and impress your friends and work colleagues with your stylishness.