Archive for February, 2008

American Inventor

February 27, 2008

American Inventor 

Q: I say, I say, I say… what happens when you cross Dragon’s Den with American Idol and transfer it across the pond, produced in an executive manner by that Simon Cowell fellow and the Peter Jones we know and loathe?
A: You’re left with a pile of stinking shit.

It seems that to make money in American television these days, you only need to take a UK reality show that’s not yet been adapted, stick ‘America’ or ‘USA’ in the title, remove any element that made the show half-watchable in the first place and then stick it up on the box. Our American cousins will get their square eyes slavering over it in huge numbers.

I tuned in to American Inventor hoping it’d be Dragon’s Den transplanted across the Atlantic, but maintaining the basic premise. It was a foolish mistake and I’m sorry.

I was even poised to make notes throughout, the way I used to when I followed the Apprentice, making sure I got everything in. This time my scrawl finishes after a few sentences with the words ‘this is utter, utter shit’.

So where did they go wrong? Let’s bullet-point it, as if we were making a presentation to the Televisual Taste Adjudication Board.

  • Completely unconvincing edits and cutaways, clearly filmed later or before, introduced with no effort whatsoever to cover themselves up.
  • Needless celebrity panellists who had nothing to do with anything and who couldn’t offer expertise even if they had any.
  • Show offs and actors made up the ‘contestants’ rather than bona fide inventors.
  • Streams of transparently manipulative incidental music accompanied ‘whoa! he’s kooky’ contestants, fat contestants, sob story contestants etc…
  • A needless, sentimental montage involving a firefighter dominated the final quarter, inducing a bucket-load of vomit and a laughable denouement.
  • Titles, presentation style and production all complete carbon copies of the X Factor. The two styles (invention pitches / auditions) mix like orange juice and milk.

The panellists are right out of the economy drawer. Apart from Jonesy (who kowtows to the lowest common denominator at every opportunity and is only included to play the ‘cold Brit’ character), we have George Foreman, some woman who invented slimming pants and a bespectacled weirdo without portfolio.

Foreman’s clearly taken a few batterings in his time and, as a result, says yes to everything. The woman’s as thick as two tiny planks and the other bloke sits there contributing nothing.

This time, rather than the investors putting up their own money, they’ve gone and ruined it by offering a fifty grand prize to every idea that gets three ‘yes’es from the panellists. Apart from the cosmetic failures, this is where we really see the problems seep in.

In the UK version, the entrepreneurs put themselves on the line and stump up their own money, putting their reputations on the line. Here, the studio puts up the money, so it degenerates into a charity effort.

The best example of this is the aforementioned firefighter. Affable but terminally thick, he invented a ‘Guardian Angel’. The theory is that it sits atop your Christmas Tree and, should the tree burst into flames, the angel turns into a sprinkler system. For the tree. The stupidity was further compounded when this tit in a uniform pulled out his blueprint – a felt-tip monstrosity a brain-damaged goose could’ve come up with.

Ludicrous? I thought so. But all the judges gave it a ‘yes’, including Peter Jones, who in the UK version would have told the geezer to get himself fucked. But no – he’s in America where firefighters are treated as Gods, rather than the hare-brained, admirably backward part-timers they actually are.

I would go into the other inventions on display but they weren’t even breath-takingly stupid – just boringly and obviously crap and unfunny. An hour of my life gone. A whole hour.

The reason we (or maybe it’s only ‘I’) watch Dragons’ Den is to see the smart but awkward entrepreneurs make tits of themselves or praise and reward someone who’s put a lot of effort into a genius idea. There’s none of that here.

In fact, there’s nothing here apart from a badly repackaged turd of a television programme that should never, ever have been emitted from the anus of television. Avoid at all costs.

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Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA

February 21, 2008

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares USA 

The USA incarnation of Kitchen Nightmares seems to be a lot more brutal than its English counterpart.

‘Why?’ I hear you cry… well let Piqued explain with his wordz, right here.

When Gordon trundles into an American eatery they’ve little idea what to expect. They may have heard that he swears and can get a bit cross sometimes but his Michelin stars and success over here, if known, are ignored. To them he’s (annoyingly) referred to as ‘Chef Ramsey’ and a TV crew is filming him and them. That’s it.

From here on in we follow the original UK pattern – save a different initial attitude for reasons just cited. Restaurant owners seem to be timid, waiting staff thick and the chefs lazy, typically arrogant and obnoxious. The latter carry on as if they quite literally own the place and do as little as possible to get by whilst the owner wrings their hands over mounting bills.

Last night was a key example, the Chef was all full of piss and wind and we discovered that, in addition to producing horrific food, he was making mash potato out of a packet, none of the veg was fresh and his kitchen was filthier than Jordan’s gusset. Said Chef, when caught out, began posturing and giving it a load of old flannel. Cue Gordon really losing his rag, despite quite threatening posturing from the Chef. The stalemate was broken following the sacking of a light-fingered member of kitchen staff and by Gordon reorganising the whole kitchen, menus and restaurant décor, which he does every week…

But unlike the UK model, after all the yelling and learnt mistakes the USA version inspires dreadful gloopy pathos then endless apologies and creepy praise in Chef Ramsey’s direction, which are in sufficient quantities to inspire the viewer to projectile vomit. Whilst we get this to a certain degree in the UK Nightmares, the Americans like nothing more than syrupy oozing sentiment. Even the gangsta Chef was all wet eyed and simpering by the end. It’s almost as if they thrive on being proved wrong.

Americans smother themselves in a veneer of niceties – it’s virtually impossible to tell if an American, on first meeting without preconceptions, is decent or a fucking right wing ignoramus. Worryingly, this veneer of niceties seems to coat anyone who has been living in the US for over five years, wherever they’re originally from. This may have something to do with immigration policy and the pledge of allegiance to the flag which encourages all residents of the USA to BE American, it’s something the UK is seeking to emulate, but that’s another matter entirely…

Anyway, the restaurant closed after five months and everyone lost their jobs, except Gordon.

Bye y’all, y’all be having a good day now…

*bang*

Dave

February 20, 2008

Dave 

First things first. I love the new(ish) TV channel ‘Dave’. I’m not sure it’s worth losing UKTV History at 7pm, but it does sweeten the pill slightly.

Thanks to Dave I’ve now watched every episode of Top Gear made over the last couple of years… I never knew how good it was until now. I’ve also caught up on every episode of QI and Mock the Week ever made, which for me is also a good thing. I wonder what they’re going to do though. I think I’ve seen everything on Dave’s playlist now – I hope they get some more telly programs soon or I won’t have anything else to watch.

So, in my opinion, Dave is good. That’s that sorted.

I suppose the demographic Dave is aiming at are males aged from their 20s to their 40s. Or thereabouts. I’m sure some media type could narrow it down. So what’s with the idents in between shows? They infuriate me. They might, might appeal (I suppose) to some of the more impressionable, younger, thicker members of the target audience, but surely to most of Dave’s viewers they are merely irritating?

I’m talking about the mansion full of cunts that pops up between programs, showing the occupants carrying on in a way that inspires violence.

There’s that twat on an elephant; shaved head, fighter pilot sunglasses, short sleeved shirt and a tie. An anus who minces out of the mansion wearing what looks like a velvet jacket and massive silk scarf. And an absolutely hateful cunt (and this one really is the fucking worst) who sports a ‘mohican’ (sort of), a white leather jacket and ridiculously tight red fucking jeans. And fucking ear muffs! All while he throws fucking snowballs at his mate.

Then there’s some twatty tart who pops her head out of a tent indoors, trying to look bleary eyed and yet all made-up who takes a pint of fucking milk back into the tent. For what? What’s she got in there? It’s tiny! She’s in a fucking mansion, why doesn’t she walk through to the kitchen, sit down and have the bastard butler make her an egg banjo with a proper pot of tea?

And why are they all in tents in a downstairs room when there’s about 20 bedrooms up there?

The cunts in question are in their twenties so why are they having a sleepover on the floor like children? Maybe they’re ill.

What irks me is – who thought of this? I’m not in the media, but I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to make idents appeal to the target audience. Or reflect the kind of telly shows what you put on. So why show what’s clearly a mob of twenty year old male models, all dressed as shop window dummies for places like River Island, Bay Trading and Cunt’s Clothing cavorting around like special needs arses to an audience which consists mainly of beery, plump, possibly balding heterosexual men who like watching programs about cars presented by other fat, middle-aged men?

The knobs in the Dave mansion look like the sort of people who watch nothing but Hollyoaks and Celebrity Dignity Swap on Ice.

It baffles me.

Guardian Unlimited – Travelog Blog

February 15, 2008

Gogarty 

You’ve probably already heard about this… my attention was first drawn to it by Football365’s Mediawatch section. I’m still ploughing through the comments now, and it’s rekindling my faith in the general public.

Unless it’s a huge wind-up and I’ve fallen for it, hook. line and sinker…

If it is some kind of viral advertising campaign, it’s pretty sickening in and of itself.

Pre-Emptive Review: Rude Tube

February 15, 2008

Alex Zane 

Let me tell you a story:

Somewhere in London, in a trendy and well-expensive bar, a group of young filmmakers were desperately trying to come up with the next hit TV show. As the usual suggestions of anything featuring ‘sex’ and/or ‘celebrity’ in the title were offered up, one of the group idly began to surf the web in boredom and happened across a well-known website called YouTube. After a quick trip to the bathroom to snort coke of the tits of a girl who was easily impressed by a Channel 4 name badge, he returned to the table to tell his friends of his momentous idea.

‘We’ll put YouTube on the telly!’ he excitedly brayed to his champagne-soddled allies. ‘

‘It’ll be brilliant! We’ll film it on an empty soundstage with a few lights and microphones showing, y’know, to look a bit cool, and we’ll get a cheap version of Russell Brand to host it. Bish bash bosh, easy TV and a shitload of cash. Whaddaya think?’

His friends were less than enthusiastic – ‘it’s been done before’ they chorused ‘and isn’t in awfully similar to Tarrant on TV, or You’ve Been Framed…?’

‘That’s the whole point” our zeitgeist-defining producer replied

‘It’s been done before so we know it works. We just need to make it look hip and cool by hiring a man who has a kooky hat collection to present it. Nothing is cheaper and easier to make than a compilation show with footage that costs nothing to acquire.’

At this point our filmmakers ordered more champagne, more coke and more easily impressed women and began to talk long into the night about how TV was really easy to make as you didn’t really need to think about anything for more than a few minutes anymore.

The End.

Well – not quite the end. You see ‘Rude Tube’, as these pubescent wunderkunds opted to call it, isn’t going to be broadcast until tonight. However, since the format is so stale and the idea so staggeringly unoriginal, there really is no need to wait until it’s been on TV to accurately review it – after all, it’d be a waste of both your and my time. So here goes; 

A load of videos that you’ll have already seen a gazillion times over, embedded on Facebook pages, or emailed to you by that funny guy in the office, or as part of Richard and Judy’s ‘Funny Videos on the Internet’ Section, or indeed on You Tube itself, are shown inexplicably in a prime time slot on Channel 4. That’s about it. It’s hosted by that guy who was on Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong last week and has a collection of cool Hoxton hats, and no doubt he’ll be making a few witty comments about the videos before they’re shown – I imagine some will be a little bit naughty, like a teenager’s nipple slipping out or a toddler making a noise that sounds like ‘fuck’ and some might be a bit gross, like the numerous videos there are of people drinking a gallon of milk and then vomiting.

About six years ago, before the advent of web 2.0, I ran a monthly audio/visual night in Sheffield called the Media Lounge. We showed a fair amount of footage from the web – internet video still being in its infancy then – much of which has now become quite famous; the cup stacking child, the treadmill music video, Star Wars kid, the whale blowing up or the wedding party doing Thriller etc…

After four years of running this night and showing this material in the backroom of pubs, we knocked it on the head, primarily because YouTube has usurped our positions and we could no longer get hold of footage that everyone hadn’t already seen… the novelty had gone.

I’m not writing this post from jealously or annoyance, but from sheer disbelief… the web video idea has been done, its been done, done, done – stuffed and roasted, it’s been sampled, looped, fucked and eaten and the whole world and their mother have their own channels. Funny videos of pandas sneezing, of BMXers falling over, of gang happy slapping and accidental nudity have been prevelant in our world for years – fucking hell, some even make the goddam, news – and they’re about the least least cool, least hip, least new, least novel and most easily accessible media there is.

Alex Kooky Hat was on Loose Women yesterday, wearily talking up this new venture and trying really hard to not to sound embarassed by the very idea – like a movie star who knows their new film sucks arse hard but is contractually obliged to say it’s good.

During the interview with the four malicious witches of daytime TV, he explained how some of the videos they’re showing have been viewed 70,000,000 times on the web. The question that should have been asked next is ‘well, why the fuck are you showing them at all?’

I wouldn’t mind so much, but I quite like Alex Kooky Hat – he seems like a nice fellow, is quick witted and funny and has some genuine screen presence, but unfortunately he appears to have an agent who wants a second home and will make him do whatever shit crops up next so he can get his hands on that 10%.

Rude Tube seems to be an even cheaper version of the Top 100 Most Barrel Scrapingly Obvious Time Fillers – after all, for those compilation shows they need to pay people to talk about the subjects, and they have to pay to use clips. All they need for this is some cheap b-list media personality, a load of free clips that EVERYONE has already seen and someone to write a few sentences to preceed them… it’s like the meeting was ending early and they still didn’t have the 9pm Friday slot filled, so they literally just threw any old shit at the screen and walked away counting the advertising revenue and giggling.

I shan’t be watching the Rude Tube 50 Most Watched Online videos tomorrow night, I’ll be online using the You Tube most watched feature (http://www.youtube.com/browse?s=mp&t=a&c=0&l=&b=0) – but if someone out there does, let me know if I was right.

Baftas – British Academy Awards, 2008

February 14, 2008

Bafta 

Let’s face it – the Oscars are rubbish. They’re a highly-predictable, self-congratulatory backslap, filled with wailing starlets dedicating their success to God and egotistical directors believing themselves to be untouchable. Every time you have to sit through more and more tedious dance interpretations, undeserving wins and Celine Dion performances, just to find out who was the lucky recipient of the tactical voting this year. And they go on for hours… hours and hours and hours…

But they may not happen this year because of the writers strike… well, they will happen this year… but that doesn’t matter, because there’s a chance they won’t… either way, the possibility of no Hollywood red carpet this year was enough to send the American royalty scuttling over the pond for their one definite chance to wear a tux this season – the British Academy Film Awards – and thusly lent the event more kudos and importance.

And it worked too… free of the faux-worship and celebrity-deification that scuppers the Oscars each year, the BAFTAs was a relatively classy and refined affair that seemed to actually celebrate the movies and not the paychecks that come with them. And they brought it in at just over two hours, including a half hour break for the news!

The broadcast ceremony began in the best possible way by fucking up the audio link and rendering the first 10 minutes inaudible. This meant that only were we mercifully saved from Jonathon Ross’s no doubt hilarious opening monologue, but that all accompanying clips and soundbites were smeared with an ominous echoing and deep rumble – fantastic! Avant garde cinema at it’s best.

Then they fixed it and just in time to for Rambo to give the award for best British Film to This is England. Brilliant! A totally deserving win, followed by a funny and humble acceptance speech. No ego, no harrumphing, no glorious self worship – just a good film getting an award that it should have. Bring it on!

The rest of the night pretty much followed suit – big names came out and gave prizes to films that really wouldn’t get a look in at the Oscars and there was no one big winner, no one film that swept the board. It kept the event interesting and reflected the highly unusual levels of worth within this years’ nominees.

There were a few predictable wins – Daniel Day Lewis for best actor, Javier Barden for supporting actor – but the majority were unexpected, or at least wide open in a well deserved field. Marion Cotillard winning best actress for the fantastic La Vie En Rose was a terrific moment, as was the Diving Bell and the Butterfly picking up best adapted screenplay.

Atonement, the 14 category nominated super horse, only won two awards and while it was fun to see Keira’s face dropping at each loss for a while, you were really rooting for it by the end. And it won best film… which I don’t mind too much, they obviously put a lot of hard work into making a well-received film and after every other good movie had picked up and award or two it seemed only fair that Atonement should get the big one. The only sour note, really, was the producer of said film assessing their win on stage;

“well, we only won 2 and we were nominated for so many, but we got the big one and I suppose that’s the important thing”

…before going on to say how nice it was that the other films got a look in.

I never thought I’d write this post, I never thought I could write a good review of yet another fucking awards ceremony – but this year they appear to have got it right. The awards were largely just, the speeches free from excess and Jonathon Ross did himself proud – although you could tell from his face that he was itching to crack a Heath Ledger joke after the in-memoriam section.

American writers should strike more often.

Skins. Episode one

February 13, 2008

Before I start, I want to point out how annoying it is when you are intending on writing a review of a programme that you have watched goggle-eyed since episode one of the first series and then some Johnny-come-lately wanders down your driveway and jumps on your FUCKING BANDWAGON especially when they are one of your favourite reviewers in the world and you fancy them a bit, and therefore find yourself in the position of wanting to touch your usurper inappropriately while spitting bile into their eyes.

Despite Brooker encapsulating everything that is great about Skins in 700 neat and well-chosen words, I shall continue, pointlessly but unbowed, like Scott tootling onwards after Amundsen, but with less frostbite. Follow me onwards to the South Pole (Bristol).

Nearly a whole year has passed since series one of Skins finished. A hollow, Skinsless pit of a year. The worst year of my pathetic little life. But now it is back! Hurrah! Hang the bunting! Call the local DJ! etc etc. The last series ended with Tony (teenage arrogance given flesh) being knocked over by a lorry after doing the Machiavellian life-messing thang on all his friends and… one sec. Sorry, I know I’m incapable of writing a review of Skins without shoehorning in a few mentions of their myspace sites, but what the fuck? Tony’s PARENTS have posted a message on his profile. His parents, no less.

We like to thank [sic] everyone for the flowers, cards and well wishes you’ve sent. The thoughtful messages have been a real comfort at this very difficult time.
Best

Jim and Anthea Stonem

Maybe da kidz have a different type of relationship with ma and pa than I did as a teenager, but is it really believable, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, really, that said kidz would tell them the password to their myspace site? I think not. There’s also a video of him in a coma on the profile, that I assume they’ve posted as well. Which is completely understandable of them, and not disturbing at all.

Anyway, onwards and downwards. Last night’s episode started with some urban dancin’, and I mean like really proper DANCIN’ from gay Skin Maxxie and some other equally implausibly beautiful teenagers (I grew up in the West Country, and people look weird down there, not all shiny and even of teeth. Even of tooth perhaps, at a push). One of them took her top off and had a see-through bra on. Saucy. Maxxie went home where his dad (Bill Bailey) practices country and western dancing with his dog. He gave up his dog dancing dream to join the construction trade, did Bill, and he thinks his son should do the same.

Tony is all spazzed up from his accident and upsetting his father with his frustrated anger at the world (Tony’s dad, incidentally is played by Harry Enfield – I wonder which ageing comedian will be invited to star next? Please, please, please let it be Russ Abbott). Max’s mum does Tony’s flies up for him. It looks like she is giving him a blow-job. Ho ho. There is a rave. Michelle gets it on with two blokes but only ‘cos her head is all messed up like, due to Tony. Sid takes acid and misses his girlfriend who is being taught the bagpipes in a mental asylum in Scotland.

There is more dancing as teens dripping in sweat take their tops off and rub against each other. ‘Chrriiiiist’ wheeze a thousand equally perspirant old men around the country.

Maxxie gets it on with one of the Asbo-homophobes who hang round his estate. Everyone goes home. It is college in the morning. Tony finally manages to sign his own name meaning that he can register for the new term (nice Somerset touch: that was an actual requirement when I was at sixth form).
 So yes, mock away, but it was great. I missed you Skins. Welcome back my loves, welcome back.

Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong

February 12, 2008

Alan Carr 

Oh dear. Oh god. Oh holy moly mother of Jesus-titty-fucking-Christ. What is this? What the fuck is this? How did this bile inducing piece of horseflesh ever get splashed across my screen? What sins have I and by extension the rest of the country, committed in a previous life to be offered this sack of shit as Friday night entertainment?

I know what we did. We gave credence to a little thing called the Friday Night Projected. Hosted by two fucktard rejects from comedy, this piss-poor excuse for television somehow became popular and launched its mediocre frontmen to national fame. Justin Lee Collins is bad enough – a Butlins level wookie milking his yokel accent in place of charm – but the true crime that FNP commited was giving us Alan Carr.

Alan Carr. Alan Carr. Just  run that name around in your head for a second and let the syllables trickle over your tongue… Alan Carr, the carry on Columbus of modern comedy, the liberal’s excuse for homophobia, the heir apparent to Joe Pasquale…

You see Alan Carr is gay. GAY. That means he likes kissing men. Which is hilarious. HILARIOUS.  Because he’s gay he’s obsessed with cock , like all gay men are. He’s camp, and effeminate, and high pitched and squealingly consumed by innuendo… just like every other gay man in the world. He’s such a great representative of the homosexual community that he makes the women think he’s sweet and the men think he’s non-threatening… just like all gay men should be. He should work for the United Nations as an ambassador or something, he’d really further the cause.

So, Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong (ooh, see what they did there? ‘Ding dong’ is euphemism for cock) is about pitting celebrities against civilians, seeing who knows more about the other’s life. Seeing that the private life of every cunt who’s ever been television is forcefed down our throats 24 hours a day, while normal life is often held in disdain by even the lowliest X-Factor loser, it shouldn’t be too hard to guess how it works out…

Alan enters to a standing ovation (yes, a fucking standing ovation!) from the Heat subscribers who make up his audience and positions himself betwixt the huge final letter of Ding and first letter of Dong, making himself the O of self worship. He reads the autocue with the ability of a man who learnt to read yesterday and introduces the bottom scrapings that are his celebrity guests:

  • Kirsty Gallagher, who says not one fucking word all show – no doubt earning her 10 grand payday
  • Les Dennis, squandering his Ricky Gervais given second wind with all the finesse of Cuba Gooding Jr after an Oscar win
  • Konnie Huq, kick starting her unavoidable slide into lad mags pictorials
  • Davina McCall, the cackling high priestess of shit television
  • Alex somebody who might have something to do with music, but I only recognize him from a G2 fashion supplement where he talks about his kooky hat collection.

Hardly human beings, let alone celebrities…

The civilian guests enter and are no doubt picked from a gene pool of competing hilarity… each is a little funny looking,  too short or too tall and uncomfortable in their skin.

They are, are of course, from a notoriously boring town and hold down wildly dull jobs. One of them lives in a council house; Davina finds this hilarious.

And so the games begin; which takes longer to obtain, an African baby or a council house? Which is fatter; Posh’s waist or the bingo wings of a fat girl? Throughout we are treated to ‘comedy skits’, the worst of which features Derek Acorah channeling dead celebrities and giving Alan plenty of chances to say “oooh, I’ve been entered” over and over again.

The script – and it is scripted, thoroughly and entirely – is appalling, the delivery of the ‘improvised’ comedy is stage managed to the nth degree, pointing out how completely untalented anybody on the stage is. I’ve seen Brit awards ceremonies hosted by Sam Fox and Mick Fleetwood that are more natural than the lines passing for banter here.

And it keeps coming like this, for 50 fucking minutes! There’s the game where you guess the cooking times of microwave food – but not just any microwave food, no, it’s microwavable faggots and spotted dick. Which is funny because Alan Carr is, like, gay. It’s hilariously clever…! You can just imagine the Hoxton underling who they sent out to buy the props for the show – hawing with laughter in the frozen section of Netto as he foraged for the cheapest, nastiest and most gay-sounding foods he could find.

It finished, somebody won and no doubt the plebs were humiliated for ever thinking they could stand in Davina’s shadow. I don’t know what happened, I couldn’t watch the end. I felt dirty, and stained by seeping homophobia and Alan Carr’s misjudged sense of irony. The whole thing was a barrel of shit, a great big filthy barrel of shit – not fit for consumption by anybody, ever. It wasn’t clever, or multi-layered, or referential, or ironic or any of the usual defenses offered – it was just a bubbling, rotting, spewing barrel of shit.