Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) 1.4 – Paranoia

Well, that was about as perfect an hour for eight year-olds as can be imagined. There are fart jokes. A heck of a lot of fart jokes. We thought our kid was going to stop breathing at a couple of points. And then there’s the farce around several assassination attempts, which all of us enjoyed, not just the kid.

In “Paranoia,” a former government employee is ready to publish a book blowing the lid off several worldwide conspiracies. He’s targeted by five different players, including his former mistress, and his wife, who schemes with the publisher to get rich off the sales figures if his paranoid nightmares come true and he’s assassinated at a top-security conference. Some of the movers and shakers who decide this man has to go are a little less competent than each other. Charlie Higson’s Fast Show co-star Arabella Weir plays the wife; Simon Pegg and Buffy‘s Alexis Denisof also have solid roles.

As for the fart jokes… Marty is trying to learn how to levitate things, but he only succeeds in moving paper when he breaks wind. The byproduct is an unholy room-clearing smell. This becomes useful when he needs to get everybody out of a room with a bomb and Jeff is, literally, tied up elsewhere. It may be immature, but good grief, it’s funny.

Plus, we got to pause the show and explain what all this talk of government conspiracies was about, which meant that I got to tell him how, among other tales of hollow earths and lizard people and aliens, some people believed the Queen of England was the head of an international drug smuggling operation, and ran for president many times hawking that story. Our son gave an animated facepalm. LaRouche died earlier this year. He knew too much. Fnord.

Doctor Who 1.7 – The Long Game

There’s an odd little hallmark of Russell T. Davies’s four seasons in charge of Who. Around the middle of each 13-episode run, there’s this one forgettable story that doesn’t seem to have any zip or energy. I wouldn’t call “The Long Game” (or “Idiot’s Lantern” or “42” or “Doctor’s Daughter”) all that bad, but none of these stories thrill me much, or have much of anything really meaty going on, and I don’t think I’ve bothered to rewatch any of them. On the other hand, our son was pretty fascinated by the story. He was a little confused and thought this all tied in with the Time War, and that this week’s villain was another species caught in the War’s crossfire, but it was perfectly paced for him, with lots of mysteries and confusion, along with skeletal corpses and a big blobby monster with lots of teeth.

Joining our heroes – who include Bruno Langley as Adam, a refugee from the year 2012 who immediately tried to profit from future knowledge and was just as immediately and unceremoniously dumped home – are guest stars Simon Pegg as the evil Editor, along with Anna Maxwell Martin and Christine Adams as two journalists. Pegg you of course know from everything. Adams currently co-stars in Black Lightning on the CW, and Martin was Elizabeth in Death Comes to Pemberley. Incidentally, if you’re not familiar with Death Comes to Pemberley, either the original novel or the BBC’s adaptation, we can certainly recommend it, because Marie adores Jane Austen and I adore P.D. James. Best of both worlds.