British TV Show Reviews "K"

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Dates refer to when review was written

Kangaroo Palace (3/98)
Two part Australian drama set in the 1960s as a group of young Australians emigrate to "swinging" London but end up squatting with a bunch of hippies in a building they call "Kangaroo Palace." Jacqueline McKenzie (Stark) stars as a wannabe photographer searching for her father, and her relationship with another emigrant who wants to be a journalist is one of the primary focuses. Made for an Australian audience, the moral at the end seems to cynically suggest "There's no place like home."

Karaoke (11/96)
Before he died of cancer, writer Dennis Potter (The Singing Detective) managed to persuade the BBC and Channel 4 into making his last two works as co-productions to be run one right after the other and broadcast on both networks. The first, Karaoke, is a four-part drama about a dying, alcoholic screenwriter, Daniel Feeld (Albert Finney), who begins to think people in real life are starting to imitate characters in a movie he wrote. The film (also called "Karaoke") is being edited by an egotistical director (Richard E. Grant) who is having an affair with his leading lady. Feeld in turn gets involved with a woman who seems very much like the one in the movie. The film-within-a-film scenes are nicely handled (and very in-jokey, the "actor" playing the Daniel Feeld role in the movie looks like Dennis Potter!), and Feeld (and Potter) manages to write his own happy ending - or does he? Knowing this would be produced posthumously, one wonders how autobiographical Potter's drama is concerning his own mortality. But wait until what comes next in the sequel Cold Lazarus...

Katy Brand's Big Ass Show (7/09)
ITV's answer to Catherine Tate with a sketch comedy series with Brand as various recurring characters including Kate Winslett, a hard army soldier, Jennifer Aniston, and Jesus's long-suffering girlfriend.  Like Tate, a lot of the humor is being familiar with each character's catchphrases, but Brand holds her own here.

Keeping Mum (9/97)
BBC sitcom starring Stephanie Cole (Waiting For God) as the world's most annoying mother. Her poor suffering son must put up with her shenanigans as he attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife - whom mom despises. Clearly, he's outclassed.

Keeping Up Appearances (7/96)
In this Christmas special, Mrs. Bucket (pronounced like "bouquet"), the harridan with an etiquette fetish, gets a mobile phone (which she uses incessantly to annoy her neighbors), and takes part in a disastrous Christmas pageant.

Keith Allen Will Burn In Hell (10/08)
Comedian Allen, best known these days as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the new Robin Hood (and Lily's dad), directed this Channel 4 documentary about Westboro Baptists and their white supremacy agenda in America.  He gets to interview them and show them as the racists they are, although the cards are stacked in his favor as the editor and narrator of the finished piece.  But he's not afraid to get his hands dirty in the process.

The Keith Barret Show (3/05)
Rob Brydon takes his sad sack character from Marion & Geoff and becomes a BBC chat show presenter!  I guess the Kumars have proven that anyone can host a talk show, as long as you keep the guests laughing.  Still, it's nice to think Keith finally accomplished something...

Ken Russell's Treasure Island (7/96)
Oddball filmmaker Ken Russell (Lisztomania) wrote and directed this made-for-TV movie of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic like it was a Carry On film. Not to mention that villain Long John Silver is transformed into Long Jane Silver, a Madonna-like blonde with a pegleg. She and her pirate crew break into song at any cue on their quest for the buried treasure marked on a map belonging to a young boy. Faithful it's not, entertaining, that's hard to say. It's certainly different.

The Kevin Bishop Show (7/09)
Bishop, a sort of younger John Culshaw (Dead Ringers), is a brilliant impressionist who was the best part of Star Stories playing various celebrities.  In this series he is in the spotlight in what ostensibly appears to be someone flipping through the channels of digital TV on a Friday evening and catching what's on (even the time is in synch with the actual Channel 4 broadcast).  His characters include Ross Kemp, Harry Hill, Harry Potter, and parodies of various low-rent satellite TV shows.  It's difficult for impressionists like Bishop, Culshaw and Rory Bremner to break out into anything else, but I'll be curious to see what he does next.

The Key (5/04)
The history of unionization is told through one family of women in Glasgow starting in 1915 and continuing through the present day.  Love, success, and most of all, having quality workplaces are all explored in this BBC mini-series where people's lives don't always turn out as expected.

Kidnap and Ransom (3/11)
Trevor Eve stars in this ITV mini-series as a professional hostage negotiator who is called in when insured bigwigs are abducted in foreign countries for ransom.  He is all about getting the deal and the successful return of his clients but it doesn't always go well.  A pharmaceutical executive is kidnapped by two amateurs in South Africa but like an episode of "24," we discover onion-layers of conspiracy just when we think the adventure is over. 

Killer Net (9/98)
Four-part ITV thriller written by Lynda La Plante (Prime Suspect) and directed by Geoffrey Sax (Doctor Who). The Internet, the ever-trendy bogeyman these days, is the focus as a psychology student meets a wild girl online which eventually leads him to "Killer Net," a CD-ROM game where you pretend to be a serial killer. When the girl is found murdered, the police suspect the student, particularly as he "planned" her murder as part of the game. But is he guilty? Who is really behind "Killer Net"? How does it recreate Brighton so accurately in the game? And will the computer-illiterate police be able to separate what is real and what is fiction? Technologically-savvy viewers will amuse themselves saying, "Computers can't do that!", while the whodunit aspect wouldn't confuse a Murder, She Wrote fan, but the integration of computers and reality is nicely done and keeps things off-balance for most of the time.

And Kill Them (11/09)
Channel 4 one-off about recruits in basic training and the one soldier who keeps seeing a pin-up girl come to life, not realizing she is a portent of his doom if he goes to Iraq.

Kingdom (10/08)
Stephen Fry stars as Peter Kingdom in this ITV drama as apparently the only lawyer in a small town in Norfolk.  All other forms of authority don't seem to exist, and so everyone comes to Peter to sort out their disputes and relationship problems.  These include his recently deceased brother who ran up debts with the wrong people, and his mentally unstable sister who now lives with him.  Fry can do no wrong, but the series strains credibility at times. 

King Leek (3/98)
Tim Healy stars as a father whose only concern are his prize leeks which he impetuously bets his house on in a contest with his bitter rival. His family are some piece of work too, with one son growing cannabis in a barn, and another boy with a knife obsession. My friend Allen loved this BBC TV movie but a friend of his couldn't agree, saying grimly, "My dad is King Leek."

Kings of Glam (4/07)
Documentary look at the 1970s glam rock music scene with profiles of Mark Bolan, David Bowie, Noddy Holder, Bryan Ferry, Suzi Quatro, and Elton John.

The King Is Dead (10/10)
This BBC3 celebrity panel show hosted by Simon Bird (The Inbetweeners) is an anarchic cousin to Shooting Stars in that three guest stars do goofy stunts and answer nonsensical questions all for a dubious reward.  In the first episode done with a very particular American theme, the President is dead and James Corden, Sarah Beeny and Peaches Geldof compete to become the new President of the United States.  Each week, another high profile job holder is "killed off" so there's a different theme each time, like Santa or Police Chief.  Abetting Bird are Nick Mohammed and Katy Wix.  You have to appreciate the changing art direction, costuming and little skits which are interspersed throughout which does attempt to liven up the rather shop-worn celebrity panel format.  The King Is Dead is certainly inventive, hopefully they can keep the pace up, although it's mainly aimed at people who like and can put up with noisy, goofy game shows.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (3/99)
Charlie Higson (The Fast Show) presents this look at movies, including behind-the-scenes of the making and marketing, as well as reviews of recent movies on this Channel 4 series. Filled with interesting interviews as well as a transatlantic scope, it’s a pretty good look at the film industry.

Kiss Me Kate (9/98)
Unfunny BBC sitcom which is especially disappointing as it stars Caroline Quentin (Jonathan Creek) as an psychoanalyst who can't manage her personal life. I never laughed once and couldn't wait for each episode to end. A real failure.

Klinik! (5/97)
Someone has taken a Dutch soap opera set in a hospital and dubbed in new dialog ala "Mad Movies." A little bit goes a long way, but luckily each segment is only 15 minutes long and heavily edited.

Knights of God (3/91)
Glossily-filmed 1987 children's adventure series set in a future British dictatorship where a boy must try to find the heir to the throne and restore democracy. With Gareth Thomas (Blake's 7), Patrick Troughton, and John Woodvine.

Knowing Me, Knowing Yule with Alan Partridge (7/96)
Steve Coogan's continuingly excellent portrayal of a shallow TV presenter (originally seen in Knowing Me, Knowing You) highlights this parody of BBC Christmas specials. You'll never watch another Andy Williams Christmas the same way again after seeing this. It would take two years for "Partridge" to recover from this disaster and return to television in I'm Alan Partridge.

Kombat Opera (4/08)
Stewart Lee (Jerry Springer: The Opera) presents quick, digestible half hour operas, including "The Applicants," a parody of "The Apprentice" with John Thomson.

The Kumars (2/14)
A continuation of The Kumars At No. 42 on a new channel (Sky) and in a new setting (behind a shop in Hounslow) but with most of the original cast and premise: a celebrity chat show hosted by a no-talent (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and his family in what appears to be their sitting room. I recall there were various attempts to remake this in the US (with a hispanic family) but Bhaskar is enough of a comic actor that he can be a chat show host and send one up at the same time.

The Kumars At No. 42 (11/02)
Half the cast of the Asian sketch comedy series Goodness Gracious Me put on this BBC half sitcom, half chat show, that features a "typical" middle-class British Asian family whose sad live-at-home son also hosts his own chatshow, apparently live from their backyard.  Each week, famous B-list celebrities arrive at their house, there are some behind-the-scenes material (which remind me in a way of similar shenanigans on "The Muppet Show") and then the guest comes out on the "show" for some of the oddest interviews ever seen (the poor host continually is shown up by his family which appear on a nearby sofa to heckle).  It doesn't always work, and a little goes a long way, but an interesting experiment nevertheless.

KYTV (11/90)
Angus Deayton (Have I Got News For You), Helen Atkinson-Wood, and Philip Pope star in this great satire of Rupert Murdock's Sky News. Each episode has a separate theme. Originally a pilot on Comic Asides.

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Written and maintained by Ryan K. Johnson (
February 11, 2014