TELEVISION / Snacks for thought: Thomas Sutcliffe gets under the skin of Small Objects of Desire and on the case of Taggart
So it proved; the information that daily enemas had been popular in certain circles in 18th-century France was accompanied by a feminine 'Ooh la la' and details of the sudden popularity of the hypodermic in the early part of this century were illustrated by a Blue Peterish animation of a rocket ship made out of syringes blasting off.
I remember thinking that the first programmes in this series were rather tasty, like one of those compulsive nibbles (Vindaloo Tortillas or Chilli Beef Popadums, say) which you can consume almost without noticing that you're eating. This was undeniably snack television, bite-sized and undemanding but, occasionally, unexpectedly nutritious too. It is still capable of surprise - the lightning sketch of the connections between social fashion and hypodermic abuse was intriguing - but the distinctive flavour imparted by the joky visuals is beginning to get a little cloying, ruining your appetite without ever quite satisfying you.
I'm not sure what food you would compare Taggart (ITV) to: a gravel sandwich, perhaps - a filling of Glaswegian grit between good thick doorsteps of detective-genre bread. It's an odd one this - a durable, very popular fixture in the schedules which has never quite managed to achieve household-name status, either with the chattering classes (like Morse) or the family audience (like Lovejoy). It may be that Southern viewers simply can't understand the best lines. I replayed one of Mark McManus's dour remarks three times but the best I could come up with was 'Take a stick to yodel laddy' which didn't seem quite right somehow as he wasn't addressing a Swiss cowherd at the time.
Taggart himself is an acute creation; one of those men contemptuous enough of career politics to get stuck, but not contemptuous enough not to care. The result is an automatic suspicion of authority that makes his superior approach him with an apology at the ready.
In last night's episode - the first of a three-parter - Taggart had to deploy his gloomy professionalism in a case of some complexity (three episodes' worth, basically). After a blundered attempt to deliver a supergrass to court and some suave villainy from a pony-tailed gangster, we ended up with a dead Procurator Fiscal, a good handful of suspects and a cat's-cradle of surreptitious romantic entanglements.
Taggart had also been mugged and is being prodded to go for victim's counselling by his fearless wife. Now that should be really interesting - something like watching a granite kerbstone in therapy.
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Doctor Who film will definitely happen, leaked Sony emails reveal
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
The Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer has leaked – watch
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling