I should probably get one thing clear from the off. Until last night, I'd never watched Entourage. So, if you're a hardcore fan who's only going to get exasperated by my relative ignorance and inevitable observation of the obvious, please, can I point your gaze a little further down the page where you should, printers willing, find a considerably better informed view of Rick Stein?
In the meantime: Entourage. Gosh, isn't it good? I've often felt like I was missing out on something and now I know why. It was as fast and slick as any of the HBO shows. Dumb, yes, and frothy, and a bit sexist, and very, very macho. But so fun. Much more fun than Sex and the City with all it's wimping about, writing columns (who wants to do that?) and having your heart broken. No doubt those bores who rave on about The Wire won't like it one jot. And the end of the day, it's rubbish. But what delightful rubbish.
And yes... Adrian Grenier. Mmm, I'll have more where that came from, please. He (or rather his on-screen alter-ego Vince) was taking his driving test, which he passed, obviously, after offering the instructor free tickets for his next premiere, "Gatsby" by Martin Scorsese, a film for which I'd be more than happy to accept bribes.
Meanwhile, Eric's having unexpected luck with the ladies, prompting ex-girlfriend Sloan to give him a ring. She wants him to move out of the "frat house" he shares with Vince et al and into her friend's home, which is lying vacant for the year. Will they get back together? I'm going with a yes. Oh, and how could I forget: Ari. Ari, Vince's chauvinist manager. Even I, an Entourage novice, have heard of him. From the looks of things he's about to promote his long-suffering assistant, Lloyd. First, though, Lloyd has to survive 100 days of hazing. Every one of which I will, hopefully, be tuning in for.
So, to Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey, and time I think for another confession: I can't stand cooking shows. There, I've said it. Phew, glad that's out the way. There's just too much to dislike. Primarily, the smugness, the delicatessens that no one can afford, and the designer fridges that no one actually has. Also: the faux authenticity and faux rusticity, the stupid orgasmic way in which everyone eats, and the posh cutlery they eat with. And, of course, the food – their food, sumptuous and delicious. Mmm, look at that: grilled seabass and strawberry compote. Ooh, I'm hungry... I think I fancy something to eat. What have we got in the fridge then? Ah, tinned tuna and half-eaten yoghurt. Lovely.
There was lots of sumptuous food last night: Kampot pepper, freshly squeezed noodles, miniature mangoes, fresh-water shrimp. But, in truth, it wasn't a bad a watch, and Cambodia makes a nice change from Notting Hill, or Hampshire, or wherever it is that Nigella et al tend to inhabit. It's not even really a cooking show. Rick hardly makes any food himself. Instead, he watches other people do it, and wanders about, getting to grips with "what makes Cambodia tick". ("They're a nice- looking people, aren't they?" he observed at one point. "Very civilized, really.") There's an interesting bit of politics too. As it turns out, soon there might not be any freshwater shrimp left to feast on. Not because of over-fishing or anything like that, but because the Mekong river, which floods the area each year, providing all its wonderful seafood, may soon stop flowing thanks to dams being built by the Chinese government. It's a depressing thought, and not just because the shrimps are delicious. They're also the area's means of survival – them and the various other ingredients nurtured by the river.
Over on BBC1, another endangered species was getting a look-in. Yup, it's the return of New Tricks. I can't quite believe this is still running, six seasons on, several years after it started. Surely someone would have popped their clogs by now? They all look like they're about to. Still, on they go, solving their unsolved crimes, cracking the same old jokes. This week, they were in an addiction clinic – Brian was anyway, he'd been sent there by his wife to get him off the drink. The others were just hanging around, pretending to be hooked on sex, rifling through filing cabinets when the clinic's staff (a band of steely-eyed monks) weren't watching, trying to find out what happened to a heroin addict who went missing nine years ago. The explanation defies belief, obviously, as do the hammy performances. It's a bit like watching Status Quo trying to solve a murder. Anyway, it's obviously popular, enough for six series anyway, and probably several more to boot. You'd think that maybe the BBC might see something in that, start sprinkling a few more over-sixties into their programmes, instead of lumping them all together in one. A crazy idea, I know. But worth a thought.Reuse content