James Bond

Before commencing this week’s column, necessity demands a rather shameful confession: there’s no actual programming to review. At least, none that managed to serendipitously find its way onto my screen over the past seven days (save _Masterchef_ and _The Apprentice_, both of which have had editorial fatwas placed on them). Now, this, I’m prepared to grant, is a fairly basic failing for a TV columnist: finding something to watch is the essential third step after steps 1) Learning the alphabet and, 2) Acquiring a thesaurus of caustic adjectives. However, in a sense, this is as much television’s fault as mine. According to a plausible-sounding statistic I’ve made up, the average student watches five hours of TV a day and yet not a single scrap of new airtime projected more appeal than, for instance, the ongoing _James Bond_ marathon on ITV4. It could be protested that snatched viewings of some 70s Bond film repeats aren’t really valid material for a television review but, quite frankly, it’s either that or an ode to _Takeshi’s Castle_.

In any case, there might be some worth in taking another look at the series, particularly as the marathon has just ploughed forth into the bewildering Roger Moore era. Now, in the second of this week’s embarrassing admissions, it must be disclosed that when I was seven years old Roger Moore was my favourite Bond. I’m convinced this is the case for every childhood viewer of Bond films. You might have been vaguely aware that this was some sort of blasphemy: that you’re supposed to like Sean Connery most of all, with Pierce Brosnan providing a reasonable understudy. You absorb the look of wry contempt from older, more seasoned members of the family and may even pretend to enjoy From Russia With Love (which will later be indisputably the best), but, like a zealot hearing the arguments of the faithless, you remain fundamentally unconvinced. Roger Moore had the underwater car and eyebrows that seemed to pay no heed to the laws of physics. At seven, Roger Moore was the best James Bond in the same way that Neil Buchanan was the best artist in the world (Picasso never having produced an aerial portrait of himself in a field in Essex).

Fortunately, over time, one develops some sense of taste, starts to question whether perhaps Monet might actually have a slight upper hand on Neil Buchanan and loses much affinity for Moore’s line in suave buffoonery, or indeed Bond films in general. Nonetheless, it’s still a harsh awakening to watch one of Moore’s films and discover what a tremendous dick he is. Even at his best, Bond is not a hugely likable character anyway, resembling a cross between a Men and Motors presenter and a a slightly louche food critic However, with Moore, one not only wants the villains to succeed but is genuinely willing to be a victim of whatever nefarious scheme Bond is attempting to foil, solely to avoid that smug smile of victory and the fucking inevitable quip. Roger Moore’s idea of cutting repartee is to criticise his host’s choice of wine. Roger Moore’s idea of dignified combat is to lock a diminutive henchman in a suitcase before imprisoning him in the crow’s nest of a stolen ship. Roger Moore’s idea of a romantic evening is to force primary Bond girl to listen to him having sex with peripheral Bond girl, in a sort of bizarre taunt/preview. Worst of all, Roger Moore killed Christopher Lee, who’s about four hundred times more charismatic and, as Scaramanga, was honest enough to cheerfully admit that he didn’t even understand his own evil plan or the workings of his base. In short, Roger Moore is the most tediously unbearable man in the world. Still better than George Lazenby, though.


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