Fiver Is 5* By Name Only

Richard Desmond bought Channel Five with grand plans to transform the struggling broadcaster into a must-watch TV station. Things haven't gone well so far, with new magazine show OK! TV proving just as unpopular as its Live from Studio Five predecessor—this from critics, viewers and even original host Denise Van Outen, who quit just days before the launch. All eyes are now, therefore, on the rebranding of Fiver, which will become 5* this Monday. Surely it has to run smoother in comparison?

Unless you're into car crash TV I wouldn't get your hopes up. American shows Better With You and $#*! My Dad Says are on the "revamped" schedule for the launch of 5*, and they're far from quality programming. Much like the rest of Richard Desmond's media empire it seems, from these shows at least, as if 5* is aimed at the lowest of common denominators.

First up is the world's first Twitter-based TV show, $#*! My Dad Says, based around the rants of a grouchy, politically-incorrect father played by William Shatner. While it's widely agreed that the pilot (March 8, 10.30pm) is average and generic, international fans claim it does pick up. It needs to improve considerably for us to keep watching, but at least it's been renewed unlike E4's no-hope acquisition Glory Daze.

Better With You (March 9, 10pm) is no more enjoyable, unfortunately. Much like Sky Living's Hot in Cleveland the show's dialogue is obvious, overacted and frequently unfunny. The premise: following three couples, spawned from the same family, at different points in their relationship is inoffensive enough, but the execution is irritatingly lazy. A shame when you consider it stars accomplished actors Kurt Fuller and Debra Jo Rupp.

5*'s output isn’t awful: one ray of hope is that popular spy comedy Chuck, recently moved from cancelled freeview channel Virgin1 to subscription’s Sky Living, will be shown from the beginning from Thursday, March 10 (9pm). Later in the year the second seasons of adult cartoons Archer and Ugly Americans will also be joining the schedule, as will American movie spin-off Parenthood and new episodes of The Mentalist. The current schedule can’t compete with those from BBC One, FX or Sky Atlantic but if you like average US TV and repeats of Home and Away and Neighbours, then 5* is for you. Personally we think the channel rates itself too highly. What do you think?

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