When Film Night (C4, Tues) kicked off a few weeks ago, it touted the novelty of a twin-presenter format, designed to allow for informal but informative repartee on the splendidly curvaceous sofa. The novelty has now worn off and the repartee has been seen for what it really is: stilted, botched, and wrong-headed. For this week's relaunch, one of the presenters has been ruthlessly rationalised, along with the weekly two- minute mimetic essay on film style. Good riddance to innovation. Hello again, safety.
So, Janice Forsyth stays on. Never mind that she talks through a tightly drawstrung aperture as if trying not to dribble. The presenter they've, ahem, devisualised is Tommy Udo. You just hope the programme's decision- makers know what they're doing. Udo may have been a television novice but was such a buff that he took his preposterous pseudonym from an arcane film noir about a psychotic gangster. If Tommy Udo the ex-presenter is anything like Tommy Udo the character, Film Night's executive producer Kirsty Wark might consider laying low for a while. Any movie buff can tell you to beware the chopper chopped.
Udo may reflect on the cruel irony of his axing in the week Film Night ran an item on American Psycho, the allegedly satirical slasher novel by Brett Easton Ellis which is to be turned into a film by two women (which apparently makes it all all right). Having gone to the needless trouble of naming himself after an American psycho, this would surely have been Udo's finest hour.
There were more psychopaths in a fascinating Panorama (BBC1, Mon), in which a shrink rounded up all the remorseless killers at Parkhurst and cold-bloodedly shot them. With a video camera. The film made no bones about buying into the gruesome glamour of the callous murderer. It dubbed them "predators", a respectful quotation from the seminal text by that distinguished and impeccably Austrian explorer of the psychopathic subconscious, Herr Schwarzenegger. The screen kept on multiplying into tiny fragments, as if the film editor, like the interviewees, has a penchant for chopping things up into little bits. There was even a cross-dressing serial killer of the Silence of the Lambs variety.
The film delivered the more humdrum truth that, though they had all buried some toxic memory in the sarcophagus of their own psyche, most psychopaths don't wear lace halter-neck tops. They wear football shirts and, more pointedly, the shirts of teams who are going down the plughole. There was one murderer in a West Ham top, another in a Manchester City top. The Dutch psychopath we met who has been apparently cured and released into the community wore the colours of Manchester United - who on The European Match - Live! (ITV, Wed), incidentally, finally fulfilled their remit to deliver two hours of primetime entertainment. QED.
The lad on the sofa of The Mrs Merton Show (BBC1, Fri) was wearing a Wimbledon shirt. The club are doing well and Vinny Jones has been allowed to mingle in ordinary society, if ordinary's the word for the company of a young woman who pretends to be a granny and her other guest this week, Boy George. George and Jones was an inspired coupling in a series that has lately tended to rest on its laurels. (By the way, Boy George once said he preferred tea to sex, and the murderer in the lace halter neck said he found it as easy to kill someone as to pick up a cup of tea. What is it with cross-dressers and tea? Perhaps Panorama ought to investigate.)
The South Bank Show (ITV, Sun) turned in a profile of the Bee Gees that began to deliver more than you initially expected and eventually came up with much less. As the film dwindled into another of The South Bank Show's conspicuous failures to grapple with pop, you were treated to a personal tour of not just Barry's Oxfordshire mansion but also Robin's. At least they drew the line at nosing round Maurice's gaff. What this Hello!esque encounter needed was a psychopathic slasher in the cutting room, to perform the kind of radical surgery that must once have been perpetrated on Barry's nether regions. Ruthless knifework is always said to be Melv's greatest ability but, on this evidence, he has been cured.
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