Archive for October, 2008

Decency Prevails At The BBC

October 31, 2008

In light of the recent crisis at the BBC, Watch With Mothers takes a look at next week’s revised Friday night line-up now the corporation’s scheduling policies have been handed over to the Downeysett-On-The-Wold Over 65’s Women’s Flower-Arranging Guild …

7:00 – The One Show : New presenters Alan Titchmarsh and Rosemary Clooney interview The Last of the Summer Wine’s Frank Thornton about his collection of Royal Doulton character jugs. Also, in a light-hearted segment, religious correspondent Aled Jones calls for the public beheading of all those that would deny Christ.

7:30 – The Last of the Summer Wine: After reading in the Daily Mail about a young radio presenter’s ill-judged prank phone call that occurred four years ago, an outraged Clegg fires off a strongly-worded letter of complaint to the Director General of the BBC. Later, he and his fellow villagers burn an effigy of the young radio presenter, whooping and hollering around it like excited chimpanzees.

8:00 – Antiques Roadshow: Fiona Bruce – properly attired in a burkha – introduces another episode of the popular antiques and collectibles show, this week coming from the grounds of Hogarth House in Leicestershire. Excitement reaches fever-pitch when a 17th century wooden spoon turns out to be a 19th century reproduction! With subtitles.

9:00 – New Casualty: Shifting location away from the bloodshed on offer at Holby City hospital, we follow the exploits of God-fearing Christian medic Dr. Ballard Ballard. It’s a difficult time for Ballard, as he juggles family life with an ever-increasing workload of minor ailments at his delightful Peak District family health practice. WARNING: Contains scenes of sneezing that some viewers may find distressing.

10:00 – Have I Got Some Good News For You For Once: Guest presenter Pam Rhodes tries to keep a lid on the antics of regular team captains Daniel O’Donnell and Ben Fogle … with hilarious results! With special guests Sally Magnusson and Jonathan Edwards.

10:30 – Room 102: Comedy discussion show in which presenter Kate Humble and guest Dr. Rowan Williams extract some of the items unfairly tossed into the now defunct Room 101. This week, Dr. Williams rescues Public Information Films from the Orwellian pit of damnation created by evil former BBC presenter Paul Merton.

11:00: – Question Time: New chairperson Gloria Hunniford keeps order as panellists debate the hot political issues of the last seven days. This week, guests discuss whether there is too much swearing on television, the utter depravity of on-screen nudity, and how young people need to get their hair cut and learn some respect for their elders.

12:00 – The Queen: Her Majesty says goodnight to the nation.

12:10 – The National Anthem: All rise for the BBC Concert Orchestra’s stirring rendition of Britain’s most beloved tune.

12:20 – Close: Pages from the Book of Revelation.

Advertisements

The Friday Question: Celebrity What Now?

October 31, 2008

It seems like every TV show and their ITV alternative have got a celebrity off-shoot these days. From ‘Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ to ‘Celebrity Fat Club’ via ‘Celebrity Family Fortunes’ and beyond, it would appear that that there’s no base level quiz show, reality show or factual show involving the public that can’t be improved by shoving ‘Celebrity’ before the title and having an appearence by Lisa Scott Lee.

So, dear Motherers, what current unupgraded TV shows would you like to see have their profiles raised by the invention of a celebrity version?

Perhaps ‘Celebrity Antiques Roadshow’ would be your weapon of choice, or how about ‘Celebrity 60 Minute Makeover’ or even ‘Celebrity Channel 4 News’?

I’d like to see the arrival of celebrity versions of drama shows, like the Bill or Holby City, where the casts are removed and replaced with reality show winners and failed 80’s pop stars – but still playing the same characters.

That’d beef up an otherwise dull episode of Heartbeat anyday.

NewsGush – Russell Resigns, Tabloids Triumph

October 30, 2008

Just to draw a line under this sorry saga (and if you haven’t been in the slightest bit interested, I apologise for the recent Brand-related news triptych), the last few days of complete stupidity and insanity have ended with Russell Brand quitting his post at the BBC. 

Taking the bullet for his friend, Jonathan Ross, in other words. Let’s not forget that it was the older of the two who blurted out the initial offending sentence.

I suppose, in some senses, Brand has also taken the hit on behalf of the BBC who, it has to be said, have behaved like disorganised buffoons throughout this farrago. They shouldn’t have put the recording out in the first place. They should have organised a public apology on behalf of all parties immediately and they should have ignored all the tabloid speculation.

But the real arseholes in this Kafkaesque trial by second hand information are – as usual – the tabloid press. Without the Mail picking up on the story and hypocritically running it endlessly (thus, presumably, adding to Mr Sachs’ embarassment) and without printing tittilating pictures of the supposed ‘fuckee’, this wouldn’t have reached the ridiculous heights it broached.

The Sun also went crazy with the story – as did all the tabloids including those with a more limited circulation – your London Lites, your citywide Metros. All expressing outrage whilst regurgitating the point of Mr. Sachs embarassment. Bizarre, eh?

To compound the weirdness, it seems Georgina Baillie has now signed up with Max Clifford – a day or so after he dumped Katona as a client. Some people are admiring of the girls guile and pluck. From where I’m sitting, it looks suspiciously like she’s exploiting the situation for personal gain. Exploiting her grandfather’s initial embarassment and milking this fabricated ‘shame’ for all its worth. I can’t believe that, by now, she’s still red-faced. Not with all those offers coming in.

The other aspect of this so-called scandal that makes it so very 2008 is the way information spread. Without Youtube, without messageboards and blogs, people wouldn’t have formed an opinion so quickly. The replay wouldn’t be available, so unless you’d taped it it’d all be hearsay.

It’s impossible to quantify whether this made the situation worse for the presenters and the BBC, but it certainly intensified the atmosphere. The web was alive with chitter and chatter and gasbag opinion. Mail readers suddenly found reason to comment on the Guardian messageboard. The papers and their websites couldn’t keep up with the bloggers who were formulating opinions left right and centre – and this aspect of the incident is something we should expect to see a lot more of in the future.

All in all, the ultimate tragedy of the whole affair is that, as a result of a very silly, vaguely amusing and massively ill-considered gag, the conservative element in the press and in the blogosphere has somehow managed to force the hand of the BBC using the most questionable tactics imaginable. They’ve also managed to make one of my favourite podcasters – a genuine talent, I feel – resign over what amounts to very little. I think that’s depressing.

It seems one squawking idiot can’t change a thing, but multiply him by a few thousand using the latest technology and soon enough you won’t be able to hear yourself think.

NewsGush – Brand & Ross Debacle Escalates

October 29, 2008

With this just in from the BBC, following front pages, comments from politicians and the blogosphere ignited, it seems nobody’s got anything better to report or comment on than this whole sorry affair…

And as a result, Ross and Brand have been suspended from the airwaves. More as a result of the furore rather than the stunt itself, one suspects.

Nice to see Georgina Baillie chipping in at last with some very Sun-style quotes. Off with their heads!

Maybe us bloggers helped this to get out of hand… and maybe politicians shouldn’t be asked such trivial questions. But on a day when Meredith Kercher’s killer has been jailed (one of three, potentially), an earthquake in Pakistan has killed loads of people and we’re all continuing to ignore this credit crunch business, is a silly phone call really something we should be focusing on? Of course, with this post I’m part of the paradoxical problem…

Isn’t it time we all grew up?

Spooks

October 29, 2008

You might not know this, but Spooks is actually based on my life.

When I was at university, I was approached by a mysterious man who identified himself as being from MI5. Of course, we’d all seen him wanking in the bushes outside the girls changing rooms. But he explained that this was merely his cover story.

Anyway, he informed me that for just £10 a week I could join the British Secret Service and serve my country. From then on, I was always aware of a shadowy figure keenly monitoring my every move – especially when I was waiting for my girlfriend outside her keep-fit class on Tuesdays. But enough fascinating espionage stories … to Spooks.

This first episode of series seven saw them killing-off yet another of their main characters, in what is by now standard operating procedure for this show. In addition, an old team member previously thought ‘dead’ is back in the game. There’s hardly any regular characters left now, but we still have:

Adam Carter – that ugly bastard all the girlies drool over. I guess he gets the sympathy shag, poor devil.

Harry Pierce – the stiff-upper-lip head of the team. Underneath we all know he’s just a big loveable jessie.

Malcolm – the techno-geek. A cross between a slightly younger Q and a middle-aged, virgin librarian.

Roz – that scrawny bird who looks and acts like the Predator. Scary and bony and ruthless, she’s pretty convincing as the sort of psychopath who might do this kind of thing in real-life.

Lucas North – The new boy, played by Harry Potter lookalike Richard Armitage. His character has seemingly just spent eight years in a Russian prison. He appears to have spent his time inside getting loads of weird sexuality-bending tatoos all over his body. Like that’s going to help when he goes undercover as a stockbroker. ‘Our cleaner Natasha knows this Chechen warlord, marvelous chap, did them in a weekend. That one above my nipples says “Gullible wealthy twat” apparently. He’s such a character.’ 

Connie Jones – the old rheumy-eyed bird based back at HQ. Very much a nod to John Le Carre and probably the only one who looks and acts like an actual spook does.

Miss/Mister X – back from the dead.

I miss Jenny Agutter. And wee Zoe. And that posh bint that was married to Adam. And Tim McInnery as the evil head of MI6. I don’t miss Tom Quinn though. He was just an annoying bastard and I’m glad he’s dead.

That’s my MI5 training you see. We’re taught not to care. Thankfully, such brutal cold-heartedness comes in handy when reviewing tv shows.

Hokum. But enjoyable enough to see us through the cold November nights.

NewsGush – Sachs, Scandal and the Sack

October 28, 2008

I was trying to avoid bringing this up as I don’t believe it deserves the oxygen of publicity – especially after the Daily bloody Mail have got their idiot paws all over it. They were bound to when there’re images of the Satanic Sluts involved. Anything that tittilates the readers whilst giving them a heart attack, right?

You know the drill – Jonathan Ross appeared on Russell Brand’s Radio 2 show, Russell Brand got ridiculously over-excited, silly phone calls were made, a nice old man called Andrew Sachs who we all remember as Manuel got upset.

The dust settles. One week later, The Daily Mail make an issue of it. Suddenly complaints are made in their hundreds and there are calls for sackings.

I’m getting stuck into a debate over here at Andrew Collins’ blog. My view is that this isn’t front page news, nobody should be sacked and that the Daily Mail is a toilet-rag.

Anyone think differently?

Hancock

October 27, 2008

HIDDEN SPOILER AT THE END

You can say a lot of things about illegal downloads; that they constitute theft, that they ruin the entertainment industries, that they weaken the cultural effect of movies and music – but one criticism that can’t be levelled at them is that they don’t half save you from paying good money to watch utter shit.

If I’d paid £7 to watch Hancock at the cinema, for example, or handed over £4 to rent the DVD and subsequently watched this tower of crap, I would have been angry and upset. As it stands, with a bittorrent at my fingertips, I was left with no resentment towards the filmmakers or cinema – just a sense of guilt and regret and a new found resolution to not give my time up so willingly in the future.

Will Smith is Hancock, an alcoholic superhero who is more of a hazard than a help. Flying drunkenly around the city he destroys pretty much everything he comes into contact with and costing the city millions of dollars in damages. So far so good.

He saves the life of charity PR man Jason Bateman who then sets about restoring his image and making him a better superhero. Also so far so good. He goes to jail voluntarily and returns as a reformed man, and begins to do battle with uber-villain Eddie Marsan. Equally so far so good.

That’s half the movie and it’s pretty good – not great, but pretty good; Will Smith isn’t exactly a bastard but he’s kind of fun, the story is pretty interesting and there’s some good jokes and action to keep you involved. Jason Bateman doesn’t come close to the highs of Arrested Development, but as anyone who’s a fan of that show will know that just having him onscreen is a pleasure.

At this point you’re enjoying the movie and all is well. Then they do something*; something that some people may call a ‘daring plot twist’ and others may refer to as a ‘brave story development’ but that I will simply describe as a ‘rubbish and stupid contrivance that utterly ruins the movie’.

Suddenly everything changes; characters are forgotten, storylines abandoned, the rules of the world alter and you find all your interest and curiosity dropped instantly. The film becomes about something else and changes tone, almost as if Bryan Singer were replaced by Brett Ratner half way through shooting. It becomes really boring.

Much like with Will Smith’s last rubbish movie – I Am Legend – everything starts out well and then turns shockingly bad. Does he no longer read scripts all the way through, or is it a deal with the studio where the first part can be all moody and slow as long as the second can be loud and stupid?

What makes this film so bad is not that the two halves are that terrible – they’re not – it’s that together they count each other out. That you enjoyed the first half is forgotten by the end of the second, so annoyed you are at the instant switch that occurs. All the goodwill and fine work thus far is obliterated by the silly story.

And so it ends. By this point I was playing with the cat and my lady was doing the washing up. I have no idea what the point was, just that I know I’ll never get that time back – but thank god I didn’t pay for it.

HIDDEN PLOT-SPOILER NOW

*Want to know what happens that makes it all stupid? Highlight the text below.

It turns out that Hancock has amnesia and forgot that Jason Batemans wife is actually his wife who is also a superhero and his greatest weakness because they are actually 3,000 year old gods who were built as a pair but lose their powers when they’re together and they have to team up quickly to fight Eddie Marsan who has inexplicably learned all of this whilst in prison and is trying to kill people in a hospital he is killed and they must part to keep their powers and so Hancock flies to the moon to print Jason Batemans charity logo on it and thus save the world through the power of branding.

Sunshine

October 24, 2008


 
What is this massive guilt-trip with working-class people who get famous?

Craig Cash, Steve Coogan, Bernard Hill and the rest of the cast of this maudling, sentimental tripe about the loveable working-classes in the North appear to lose their critical faculties when it comes to this sort of stuff.

I have to confess I only made it through the first episode. But it was clear from the first five minutes what rubbish it was going to be. Steve Coogan plays a loveable family man and gambler called Bob Crosby. ‘Bing’, they call him here in the first of many examples of Royle Family and Early Doors writer Craig Cash running out of ideas.

He sells the television to pay for gambling and spends most of his wages on gambling the week after his wife has given birth to their first baby. Back in real life, this would make him a cunt. But in loveable ‘TV Northland’ its fine because he sings her a song in the lovably working-class club they go to and everyone sings along. ‘What a character he is’, we’re supposed to think. What a load of absolute shite.

I love Steve Coogan as a comedy actor, but he shows his limitations in this and you can see him constantly struggling to reign in his Partridgeisms. Maybe he’d have been better with a decent script. Or a good Director. Or a less misty-eyed ‘how great it is to come from a housing estate in the North’ cast. But that’s all academic. This is just by-the-numbers, condescending rubbish. I can only guess that the people involved in it are now so far removed from their backgrounds that they really believe this is a fair representation of the North. 

TV people love all this sort of shit though. It saves them from ever venturing up there out of curiosity. Of course, there are many very good examples – The Royle Family, Early Doors, some Alan Bennett, some of Alan Bleasdale’s stuff ( though I’ve been watching his stuff again recently and it dates quite badly).

In case you’re wondering, TV Northland includes:

  • A working-man’s pub/social club where people from all ages mingle – like that bar in Star Wars except the females are less attractive.
  • A Coronation Street type street where everyone lives and grew up together.
  • A central character who is going through a tough time but deals with it by displaying his plucky northern sense of humour.
  • A father who is timid but loveable and has a secret. A quite loveable secret. And a shed.
  • A mother who is initially stern but loveable. She secretly knows about both the secret and the shed.
  • Our main character’s loveable best-mate from school. And his wife who is best-mates-from-school with our main character’s loveable wife. Our main character’s loveable wife may well be also be best-mates with our main character’s loveable best-mate from school. ( I hope you’re following all this, it’s important).
  • Someone official who is a cunt. We know he is a cunt because he has a different accent (usually Southern) and wears a shirt and tie. His job is to take away the shed/reveal the secret/break up the loveable working-class friendships.

With the pedigree of the acting and writing involved in this, we really should expect something much much better. I felt patronised enough watching it, and I’m Scottish. I hate to think how I’d feel if I actually came from the North of England.

Stay in your sheds until it clouds over again.