Archive for December, 2008

Big Fat Quiz Of The Year: 2008

December 30, 2008

Another year, another Big Fat Quiz Of The Year. Previously, this was decent, low-grade Christmas TV fodder. You could even stand Jimmy Carr and his casual bigotry as the outing relied more heavily on the panelists, made up of, if memory serves:

  • A pre-Manuel-trouble Jonathan Ross, gamely trying to keep up with the cool kids and acting the giddy goat, managing to be funny for ten percent of the time.
  • A pre-Manuel-trouble Russell Brand, putting in a good spot in conjunction with partner in crime…
  • Noel Fielding. Noel Fielding is one of those annoying swines who personifies likability. Thus, anything with him in it is generally alright.
  • David Walliams – like Ross, trying a bit too hard, but keeping the thing afloat with enthusiasm and idiocy.
  • David Mitchell – always good quality, even when he’s in something shit.
  • Someone else I can’t remember. [update] It was the comedian and good egg, Rob Brydon.

This year, things went horribly, horribly wrong. Ross is on a forced holiday because he done a naughty on a phoneline. He couldn’t appear as a result, presumably. Brand was unavailable for similar reasons, in addition to promoting a proper career abroad. Mitchell must have been busy and Walliams is in America. Consequently, we were left with a real horrorshow. Barrels were scraped and dogshit scraped ceremoniously from shoes as Channel 4 booked, presumably whilst drunk:

  • Claudia Winkleman – that woman off Liquid News in the 90s who looks like a goth nine-year-old who’s being continuously tasered.
  • Dara O’Briain – a man who claims he’s a comedian but is actually just Irish. And, disgustingly, he can’t even spell his own name.
  • That posh man – who is infrequently funny on Have I Got News For You.
  • Sean Lock – a cracking comedian whose usually brilliant humour was sullied for the second time this year by that arsehole:
  • James Corden – why? Why, why, why? Why is this bastard even… even…. Why is he…

…I can’t be arsed.

  • Oh – and Davina Fucking McCall.

Need I go on? Does the resultant car crash even warrant description?

Does it buggery. Even the bit where the kids from a primary school do an amusingly amateurish and endearing take on an event from the preceding year fell flat, thanks to the berks on stage following the clip, hooting like gorillas and revelling in their own crap jokes. What a ruddy letdown.

Most Annoying People: 2008

December 29, 2008

You could be forgiven for thinking we’re cynical bastards on this site. You’d be right, to an extent. But, unlike Most Annoying People: 2008, we like to think we target the most distasteful stuff we can find on TV and have something of a cause. We’ve lost the way in the past from time to time, but essentially we’ve stuck to our guns on the stuff we despise.

The aforementioned show, on the other hand, lists 100 of the most well known people in the country and systematically strips the vinegar-piss out of them indiscriminately. It’s the neverending story of the year and in it Richard Bacon connects the featured prey with withering introductions and strange audio skits whilst talking heads give their verdict on the celebrities who’ve received the words press over the course of the year.

The Talking Heads themselves are an odd bunch. You have your usual, well-recognised cultural commentators – like Mark Frith (or whatever he’s called) – the ex editor of Heat. You have a bevy of known stand ups, less well known stand ups and other ex-Blue Peter presenters. And you also have the stars of the show. A handful of the alleged most annoying who are included in the list pop up to give their side of the story and later, confusingly, appear to comment on fellow celebrity annoyances.

The show eats itself, pukes itself up, then gathers its puke and shoves it under your nose twenty minutes later due to a lack of material. It renders you completely frazzled.

What compounds the confusion is the fact that some of them may not have annoyed you in the slightest. Speaking subjectively, Fern Britton hasn’t got my goat in the slightest this year. I couldn’t care less if she’s been passively hypocritical regarding some Ryvita. I’m not sure I’ve seen any trace of Pete Doherty in the press. Last I heard, he’d moved to the countryside and got fat. That’s not annoying. It’s advisable.

So you’ll be sitting there saying to yourself ‘Huh! Piers Morgan, eh? What a moron’ and then it’ll flick to Alistair Darling who, for my money, isn’t annoying at all. I can’t see why he’s been included. The only reason the show really gave was a painfully extended pisstake regarding his eyebrows.

This is BBC3 fare and, by their standards, is surprisingly watchable. All the same, 100 is a very high figure to try and reach, so it’s no wonder some examples fall flat. The overriding problem is that the figures who are mocked are only so high profile because the media plasters them over front pages and screens instead of real news. We wouldn’t hear about Winehouse’s terrible choice of beau if it wasn’t for the press making it the top story. Naomi playing the race card after bluffing on a jet is so far off my radar that it’s incapable of annoying me.

Who exactly is this stuff annoying, apart from around 50 talking heads in a handful of studios in London, Sun readers, Grazia readers and morons?

I’m afraid I don’t have the answer.

Willie’s Chocolate Christmas

December 23, 2008

unbearable oafs

That Willie arsehole (only on TV because he’s mates with Marco Pierre White) gets a Christmas gig, apparently with a hyper-budget, for reasons we can only grasp at like the blind, intolerable worms they consider us to be over at Channel 4.

Channel 4! Home of morons!

Is he sleeping with Isadora Buck-Tooth, the channel controller? Maybe he’s blackmailing the scheduler, Julian Tit? Are ALL the people at Channel 4 complete wankers?

So Willie, who apparently sells a chocolate lozenge for a living (big bloody deal), gets some people over so he can show off his enormous house, nauseating offspring and revolting wife.

His wife deserves special attention, as it happens, as she’s an example of all that is wrong with this particular class of brainless, born-rich, constantly-on-the-box bastard. She’ so proud of her lobotomised husband and the father of her dribbling kids that she spends the entire episode talking about just how crazy they are, how life is so tough but so much FUN!

She goes about proving just how gruelling her life is by spending the whole hour busy making goodie bags for 20 locals. It’s hardly spending a 15 hour day at the pit. Judging by the size of their manor, life must be a real fucking slog. ‘Boo’. And, indeed, ‘hoo’.

Later on they again demonstrate that money is tight, by cooking an entire fucking lamb for dinner. And, being a ‘crazy madman’, Willie cooks the lamb underground. Just as we’ve seen the Hairy Bikers do before. Just as we’ve seen on TV before, umpteen times.

Apparently, he keeps telling us, this is the first time he’s cooked for his family all year and it feels so cosy to be back for Christmas. At this point, the viewer can’t help wondering why he’d invited a fucking camera crew along, if he wanted the proposed quality time with his family.

Are these people complete unfeeling chancers – prepared to film even the most intimate or private family occasions? Do none of these idiots – Nigella, Jamie and the rest – realise that we see through this pathetic illusion and know full well that they filmed their sentimental, elaborately expensive schedule-grout in October?

I genuinely reckon that they think we believe it’s Christmas because they said it is. They think those of us with a gravel drive instead of a garden will start re-laying it so we can stick a dead sheep under it to cook. They think we’re going to start calling our beef stews ‘tagines’ and they think we’re actually going to make chilli popcorn at some point in our lives.

They can get fucked.

Happy Christmas.

Quick Friday Question: Rubbish Christmas…

December 19, 2008

Over in Eastenders land, it’s all going to kick off (as it tends to) around Christmas Day when Sean learns that his baby isn’t his baby. Every bloody Christmas they try to put a dampener on our fun.

What’s the worst Christmas you’ve ever had then?

Try not to be too morbid.

Survivors (and the need to be beautiful)

December 18, 2008

Well, we’re now several weeks into BBC1’s remake of cheesy 70s Sci-Fi show Survivors, and something’s really started to niggle me. No, it’s not the lack of zombies, or the lack of action or, indeed, the lack of anything happening at all – it’s the lack of growth.

By this I mean face fungus, head-hair, grass, plants, fingernails etc. Nothing’s growing down at Survivor Central … and that defies the laws of nature.

The seven main characters all sport the same coiffured hairstyles they had at the start of the series. The Arab playboy Al looks like he’s just stepped out of the barber’s (even after the Apocalypse, there will be hair wax), the young lad Najid still sports his pageboy crop and the three ladies – Anya, Abby and Sarah – have kept those layers in place remarkably well, all things considered. And best of all, the two grunting alpha males (Greg and the psychotically obvious Tom) have held on to those number two buzz-cuts despite there being no electricity to power the clippers they’d need to keep those hairstyles looking razor-sharp.

That’s not right, surely?

Where’s the beginnings of Greg’s funky ‘fro? How come the ladies haven’t started sporting that alluring ‘just-got-out-of-bed’ look? Where’s Al’s tufts? Did the killer virus that wiped out 99.9% of the earth’s population also put the survivors of said virus in some sort of beauty stasis?

And for that matter, did it do for everything else as well?

Take the house in which the survivors live. They’ve been there for quite a while now, yet the lawns are perfectly manicured. Eh? Grass doesn’t work like that. Am I supposed to believe they’re mowing it?

Alright, fair enough, they’re mowing it … but what about elsewhere? What about the large country house Abby found herself at that was overrun with a pack of Lord of the Flies-style boys? You’re not telling me they’re mowing the lawns, are you? Without their parents to order them to? Come off it!

This sort of nonsense throws a show off balance, and it’s happening more and more these days. There used to be a time when we weren’t so obsessed with looking pretty, and television was all the better for it. Anyone who watched EastEnders in the 1980s will remember the strange – but realistic – sight of the show’s actresses appearing on screen in the morning without their makeup. Spin on twenty years, however, and the show’s women look like they’ve just finished a session at a top-class beauty salon when they arise to face a new day. This has put yet another strain on the viewer’s decreasing sense of the programme’s grounding in the real world.

Another shining example of beauty over authenticity is seen in the BBC’s two treading-water-whilst-Doctor-Who’s-not-on shows, Merlin and Robin Hood. Yes, they’re both shit on so many levels anyway, but I’d wager you’d forgive both programmes at least a little bit if the worlds created for both characters were as authentically grimy as the times they are set in demand.

Sadly, Merlin’s Dark Ages is remarkably free from human excrement being thrown from bedroom windows, rotting donkeys in the streets, open cesspits, plague-infested inhabitants, random acts of bone-crunching violence, stray dogs, rats, cats, fleas, flies, shit, blood, death and misery. Instead, it manages to make the mind-bogglingly idiotic Dark Ages world created for the uber-clean Richard Gere / Sean Connery vehicle First Knight look positively gritty.

And then there’s Robin Hood. I’m sorry, but I’ve seen enough footage of bypass protesters on the news to know that living in a wood is a dirty business in the 21st Century, let alone the 11th. Even a rudimentary knowledge of history will tell you that the olden days were a dirty place to be. Cleanliness didn’t become the norm in Britain until the 19th Century – that’s why I’m writing these words now. If you’d been reading this nine hundred years ago, well, you just wouldn’t be reading them because I’d already be dead. I’d have been picked off by one of the many exciting diseases available to olden days man thanks to his habitat, his food, his water supply and his own body being caked in shit. This, however, didn’t occur to the set and costume designers on Robin Hood, and that’s why the 11th Century created for a 21st Century audience looks suspiciously neat and tidy.

What annoys me about all this is that it’s unnecessary. Audiences, I believe, can accept a bit of reality when it comes to what they’re watching. We wouldn’t, I’m sure, throw our toys out of the pram and turn the TV off in disgust should the cast of Survivors start to look a bit frayed round the edges as the series progresses. We wouldn’t mind if Ronnie looked a bit ropey when she was getting the Queen Vic ready for another day’s trading. We wouldn’t put our foot through the television if Robin Hood or Merlin had to jump over the occasional turd (we’d put that foot through the TV when we started listening to the dialogue instead … and send the BBC the bill!).

By being frightened of the ugly, producers are denying their shows an extra layer that, especially in the cases of Robin Hood and the brutally awful Merlin, they could certainly do with. By ignoring reality in favour of sparkling hairstyles, disinfected surfaces and ultra-bright whites, shows such as Survivors and Merlin miss a trick to inject just that little bit more more believability.

It’s a trick the Pythons didn’t miss in their 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail – they covered their world in shit, and it’s all the more believable for it. An impressive achievement when you consider all that coconut business, eh?


December 17, 2008

The Barnardo’s advert, currently casting a black shadow over commercial TV, will continue to air despite attracting almost 500 complaints. According to the Advertising Standards Authority the advert was ‘justified,’ despite some of the complainants being victims of abuse who found the advert ‘distressing.’

Before we tackle the commercial itself it’s worth noting the power of the buck in this instance. Barnardo’s are paying a lot of money to run this advert. If they weren’t I should imagine 500 complaints would see the bastard taken off the air at once, especially ones from abuse victims. This is something the BBC, a publicly funded organisation, don’t have in their favour. Complain about them and a national scandal emerges, moan about your rights as a viewer after suffering shock following a confrontation with poorly judged and sensationalist shit such as this offing from Barnardo’s and you get brushed off like pubic hair that’s escaped from Stalag Luft Underpant.

The main problem with the advert is that it makes no fucking sense.

Yes, we get the cycle of abuse thing on paper but how does this offing from a Children’s Charity reinforce this? Who is this targeted at?

Teachers who don’t listen to adult women in school uniforms saying ‘I don’t understand’? That rotter who gives her a good smack round the head as she’s trying to eat toast?

Even if this was made clear I’m not sure where Barnardo’s fit into all this and am now left confused as to what Barnado’s actually do. I thought Barnardo’s was a children’s home. Are they advertising for residents or what?

The advert falls on its arse from the off by the choice of lead. The blonde ‘teen’ could be anything from 18 to 35. Either way, the character doesn’t have ‘vulnerability’ written all over her. In fact, the first thing you notice is she’s quite hot with big tits.

The choice of the ‘cycle of abuse’ is bizarre too. Not just the sequence of events, but the situations in which our heroine finds herself in. First off, we see her assaulting someone so our sympathies aren’t really engaged with her. When we see her crying in nick, a few of us probably thought she jolly well deserved it (what-ho).

Then comes the hitting scene which is as powerful as it is upsetting. Between you and me, it’s very well done, but it can’t be justified in any rational way as it doesn’t function outside of what it is… which is ‘nasty’.

The final scene of her getting whacked on horse is more farcical than hard-hitting. The makers may as well have portrayed her with a dribbling tongue hanging out, trying to catch imaginary butterflies over a Jefferson Starship soundtrack. Speeding the sequence up (instead, perhaps, on focusing on her welfare when she was younger which may have saved the whole shambles) demonstrates an ironic ‘fuck it, this’ll do’ mentality.

Should it be banned?

Not really, there’s no such thing as bad publicity and through foul means or fair, many more people will now have heard of Barnardo’s. Its just a shame that because of the poor way they’ve portrayed themselves you’ll have to find out what they actually do via other sources. The twits.

Christmas Advertising

December 16, 2008

Hmm. I’m not sure which of the Christmas ads would make me turn to crime the quickest.

Is it:

  • The one where Take That are simply having a wonderful Christmas time with that boob Myleene and her chums?
  • The one where that flubber-tongued twerp Jamie Oliver hands out cups of onion and cabbage to a pack of laughing rats in a car park?
  • The one where the increasingly unhinged Kerry Katona hands out the frozen party treats to her friends, her family, a Nolan and that wally, Jason Donovan?
  • The ones that are narrated by the Scotch fella who read out that poem in Four Weddings and a Funeral?
  • The one where the star of The Bitch and The Stud gushes over erotic pictures of salmon?

I just can’t decide. On the one hand, the Sainsbury’s one makes me want to take a sledgehammer to Oliver’s cranium, but on the other, the Iceland one makes me want to chase Kerry through the streets with a dog whip.

But do those advertisements fiil me with as much rage as the Co-Op ones (featuring this year’s most irritating Christmas song after The Feeling’s)? You have to admit, there’s a spine-cracking tensing of the entire muscular system whenever you’re watching the telly and you hear that immortal refrain:

“We me-he-he-he-heet in the wee-hee-hee-hint-her … AND WE FELL IN LOVE.”

Damn it! Where’s my knives?

And yet …

There’s that other one, isn’t there? The one with the toilet roll dogs that has McFly at the end? That one? And let’s not forget those ASDA ones with that bloody ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’ song that sticks to your brain like a malevolent tumour.

Oh God, and there’s the Des O’Connor one too! And the Richard Hammond one! And the bloody John Lewis one that’s trying to be all classy …

So which of them would drive me to murder? Which ads would I happily go to the gallows over?

Why … the perfume ones, o’course!


The Friday Question: At Home On The Box

December 12, 2008

Last night, watching Eastenders (which is 100 times better than Coronation Street), I pretended I was an omniscient being floating from room to room and spying on the inhabitants of Albert Square like some spectre from the realm of reality. It was weird.

It got me to thinking, however. I began to ponder, which fictional TV world I’d move to if I was given the chance. Also – what kind of character would I be if I lived there… how would I fit in to the plot?

Would I move to the Chester of Hollyoaks, to be amongst the attractive 19 year old idiots? Would my part be that of a bungling shopkeeper?

Would I, perhaps, move to Wetherby so I could snooze my way through life in the 60s as the local drunk, occasionally receiving a harsh word from Nick Berry or whoever plays Heartbeat these days.

Would I move to the Baltimore portrayed in the Wire and be an overweight, cynical and obese cop with flatulence, an eating disorder and porn addiction?

It’s worth thinking about. For a bit.

So – which fictional word would YOU inhabit, and what character would you play?