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TV Critics: The Secret Life of Dogs; The Planners; Suits

“In what should have been just a slot filling documentary on dogs, was a story that needs optioning by a major Hollywood studio.” Read on for the verdict on last night’s TV. 

The Secret Life of Dogs (ITV)

The case against dogs (poo, shed fur, yappiness) received no quarter in this film. We rarely saw the scientific evidence for its assertions. But as propaganda it worked brilliantly worked on me, in fact after seeing dogs for the blind, next there will be eating dogs for the anorexic. Actually that was the Duke of Edinburgh’s joke, described by an eating disorders charity as “puzzling” and “unhelpful”. Quite so. How dare he joke about doggies? Hey kids, good news: Daddy’s getting us a puppy.
Andrew Billen, The Times

A dog shaking itself dry, slowed down by 100 times, is an extraordinary and beautiful thing. Adorable, all of it. With a lovely soppy slobbery narration from Martin Clunes, who’s pretty much a yellow Labrador himself.
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

I expect they sold quite a bit of airtime to dog-food manufacturers for the ad breaks, and on transmission it won’t always have been easy to tell when they stopped and the programme began, because a lot of it looked like a dog-food commercial: besotted owners getting a tongue facial from their hounds, and slow-motion shots of puppies and pedigree types ostentatiously demonstrating their vigour. Tom Sutcliff, Independent

The secret life of dogs included a lot of anecdotal testimony from self-avowed dog worshipers who claimed that Rover’s barks convey different messages and that Fido, Flossie et al know they’re to be taken for a walk long before their owner has decided to take them. Had this programme left it at the soppy tributes of various owners, I’d have remained dog sceptical. It went deeper than that though, using slow motion footage and behavioural psychology to show us how remarkable these furry critters really are.
Matt Bayliss, Daily Express

The Planners (BBC2)

If I had to sum up this documentary series in a simple phrase, I’d say it was more interesting than it seemed but still not interesting enough for the amount of time it took up, which was one hour… So with seven more hours lined up over the next couple of months lined up over the next couple of months, what else needs to be said? Will more examples of planners’ decisions prove the point more? If so, I’ll be planning to do something else during the screening.
Matt Bayliss, Daily Express

Who knew that planning could be so interesting though? And make such good television? Which – despite the irritating plinkerty-plonkerty music and slightly arch narration by Barbara Flynn, presumably to demonstrate that there can be comedy in planning – this is. Well, it’s important, and everyone gets so very worked up about it. That helps to make it interesting. And, as Fiona the Lancashire planner says, everyone thinks they could do it better. I definitely could do it better than her.
Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

At the beginning of The Planners, Fiona Edwards said, “We’re not boring. We’re really exciting people,” trying to lay to rest a suspicion that I suspect quite a few people will have felt about this observational documentary on the planning process. They’re not all that exciting frankly, but The Planners isn’t dull, since it’s about the hysterical emotions aroused in the average Briton by the prospect of any encroachment on their property rights.
Tom Sutcliffe, Independent

Suits (Dave)

The good guys wear sharp suits, and are beautiful. Ditto the women, but more so. The one plain attorney, jowly and balding, is ridiculed by the women and the script. The dialogue thinks it’s sassy- “We are going to look up your skirt and see what you have” – but it’s really an assembly line of cliché. There is affluence where there should be warmth, self-pity where there should be self-reproach. It’s eye candy TV, and will rot your soul.
Andrew Billen, The Times

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