Archive for February, 2009

The Friday Question – WWM TV Room 101

February 27, 2009

Image by BP Perry. With apologies.

I hate:

Fish fingers, Radio Three, onions, broccolli, The Carpenters, cats, Lincolnshire, monkeys, France, vodka, fashion designers, oysters, Elton John, peppermint creams, Garry Bushell, the 1960s, Radiohead, the Tricorn Centre Plymouth (even though it’s been demolished), fashion models, cheese ‘n pickle sandwiches, leeks, Steve Wright, Look North and cauliflower.

HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE!

Thankfully, courtesy of George Orwell and (more importantly) television, there’s a place for me to deposit my hate – Room 101. Thanks to this wonderful room, you and I can dump the stuff we loathe, leaving lots and lots of shit-free space in our heads to fill with lovely stuff. Lovely stuff such as world peace, the joyful laughter of a happy child … and really quite extraordinarily large knockers.

So, what five pieces of anger-inducing effluent would YOU consign to the prison that is Room 101? And why? What’s got your goat so much you need to lock it away in an imaginary room for ever and ever, amen?

As we’re a telly site, we’re looking for telly shows to throw in Room 101 primarily. Obviously, this being Watch With Mothers, that rule’ll last what? Eight comments? Six?

Ah well, fuck it … it is Friday after all.

Over to you, ladies and gentlemen …

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Masterchef – Tonight’s Final

February 26, 2009

masterchef final

BBC2 have served up another sublime series of Masterchef this year and it’s difficult to choose which of the three finalists should win. In fact – I want them all to win, buy an island together and set up the most chaotic restaurant in the world, overcooking pies and not allowing cheesecakes to set until their hearts are thoroughly content.

But there can be only one – and my personal frontrunner at the moment is Andy, who last night managed to serve up what looks like a small, pastry panda sitting on a potato-bamboo raft (pictured above).

They’ve been through the tough times and tonight all they have to do is cook their best three-courser to seal their victory. They can count themselves lucky they’ve got past the stage where they have to cook for the critics. Anyone who has to go face-to-face with Jay Rayner without vomiting has been challenged, and being able to leave a meeting with that gorgon Kate Spicer without being turned into a miserable statue is a win in itself.

Let’s have a look at them in more detail…

* * *

Chris – The Small Boy:

Chris is a hapless little man, 24 years of age, who falls to amusing pieces when asked to lead a group. With the most unconvincing self up-talk of the bunch, you can’t help but feel sorry for him when he’s onscreen gazing at squid-ink pasta with an expression that reads ‘I am terrified of food’.

Reason to back him: He’s the youngest, is fresh-faced and seems like a decent chap.

Andy – The Comeback Kid:

Despite initally seeming like a bit of a braggart, Andy’s won us over despite his awkward swagger. Having failed last series, he’s returned stronger and is constantly rescuing Chris from disaster like a catering child-minder. Andy is pretty selfless and pretty bloody good at the old cooking. He’s earned his place in the final.

Reason to back him: The ‘comeback’ angle gives him the kind of story  Producers loves to put out there.

Mat – The Happy Egg:

Mat’s the oldest and probably the most accomplished of the three, with the best palette on the evidence provided. He’s also endearingly weeble-like, and his goatie somehow makes him even more humpty like. After listening to him speak every day for the past two or three weeks, I still can’t place his accent, mind you.

Reason to back him: He cries all the time. Happy or sad, Mat’s your best bet for a blub-off. The cameras love an eye-dribbler.

* * *

Who will win?

Who deserves to win?

One things for sure – ‘whoever wins, it’ll change their life’.

BIG GUTSY FLAVOURS!

The Culture Show: U2

February 25, 2009

Bono of the pop combo called U2

It’s easy to mock Bono. Everybody’s at it. Whether it’s his hat’s journey by jet engine, his pious preaching at Labour party functions, his forcing African kids to sing With Or Without you in a PR piece to promote his band or just outright laughter at the lyrics to his latest single, Get On Your Boots – only the creepiest U2 obsessive could really object.

This very defensive interview piece was fully aware of the public profile of the band’s frontman and seemed, from the start, to be an attempt to redress the balance. A good angle to come from, but royally ballsed up by Bono himself in protracted, oblique soundbites that did little to dispel how much of an oaf the man is.

Geldof didn’t help. He opened proceedings by insisting that ‘they’re not wankers’ – which, coming from a wanker as monumentally self-pleasuring as Bob, didn’t really help the cause. Later, when talking about how prolific U2 are, he said that those outside the industry might not realise that ‘great bands have to work at it’ which carried the implication that he’d ever been in a great band. ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ was alright, but don’t overdo it, Bob.

After an amusing clip of the fledgling band mucking about on Irish telly in the late 70s or early 80s, a parade of talking heads talked the band up, one of them asserting that ‘every band wants to be U2’. This statement is incorrect.

I’ve no problem with U2 the band – I like bits of Achtung Baby, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But when Bono ever appears outside of his day job it’s impossible not to wince at the man’s nerve. One man’s arrogance is another man’s genius, but for me his pomp and self-belief reek of smugness. He’s unbearable when he starts talking and by the time he’s finished you’re surprised nobody’s ever set fire to him.

He was sitting next to Adam Clayton in his set of interviews, whilst Larry and The Edge were cross-examined separately. It’s easy to imagine that Adam’s the only one who can actually bear the frontman, what with him having had the mental strength to cope with being around Naomi Campbell. The man must be coated with asbestos when it comes to fiery egos. Where Bono dealt in pseudo-enigmatic rhetoric when answering questions, Clayton was gnomic and as bland as skimmed milk.

Bono’s interviewee style was to patronise Laverne whenever she asked a question. ‘You’re right to ask that’, he assured her. ‘Geez, this girl is good’ he proclaimed, as though she landed the job based on blackmail. He was remarkably restrained but still indulged himself in that special line of bollocks he specialises in – the self-aggrandizing statement disguised as humility. One choice anecdote concerned a non-fan of the band who happened to attend a gig saying that the hairs stood up on the back of his neck when they played. Bono, keen to ground himself whilst simultaneously and paradoxically raising himself to Christ level, replied: ‘you know what? That happens to us too’. Because he’s merely a prophet, see? And the music is the message. Man.

Later on, he said they continue doing what they’re doing because their job is to ‘derail the rock n’ roll mythology’ – referring to his belief that U2 are put on this planet to prove great artists don’t have to kill themselves and leave a romantic myth to truly be great. Considering the likes of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Christ – even Paul McCartney have already sorted that one out, the statement falls redundant to the stadium floor.

To finish, Geldof explained to us thickies that people are wrong to think of Bono as cliched in his political dabblings. He said ‘expressions only become cliches because you have to repeat them again and again’. He’s right – but only if the expressions are valid in the first place. If they’re trite and simplistic then they’re cliches from the start. Real insight only needs mentioning once, and can be revealed at any time – even when a new release isn’t scheduled for months.

Get on your boots, indeed.

Naked: Office Workers

February 25, 2009

It’s as if the people over at BBC Three have created a programme on their Acorn Electron – a Future Commissions Generator, if you like – which gobbles up stats on past successes and then, based on the shows that got people talking, mocking or jeering, reformats them using as little originality as is electronically possible.

So, thanks to the FCG we’ve reached the point where Freaky Eaters has dispensed with the food theme completely, leaving us with just the ‘freaks’ (which is BBC Three-speak for people with hang-ups). Obviously they can’t make a show on that premise alone or they’d just be transmitting artfully lighted shots of a handful of neurotic people babbling in a white studio and bumping into one another, so they’ve nicked the ‘nudity’ from How To Look Good Naked and chucked it in to see if it works. And whether it works or not, they’ll put it out regardless.

The Naked strand is the result. Naked: Nurses, Naked: Office Workers, Naked: Tramps, Naked: Eunuchs – these days all you need to do to empower people is to convince them to take all their clothes off and, bingo! They’re walking, talking superbeings! Balls to logic and dispense with common sense – just strip to your duds and feel at one with the universe!

In Naked: Office Workers, Isha is a working mum with body issues. Victoria has the sense that her bottom is too big. So far, so Gok Wan – but the other participants are all concerned with issues outside of self-image. John feels he’s too short to be taken seriously. Noel is crippled by shyness and Victoria isn’t over her ex. It’s never explained why public humiliation will help these seemingly decent folk confront their issues in any depth or with any insight – it’s just an uncertain dive straight into the tasks with mentors Jonathan Phang and Emma Kelly, and we’re expected to go along with them.

Phang is an Image Consultant who has apparently ‘worked with supermodels’. I don’t know what that means, but he looks like an overweight Ronald Reagan. If his job is to guide people on how to present themselves, he clearly doesn’t listen to his own advice.

Kelly is his right-hand girl and she’s a psychologist, presumably at amateur level, and she’s there to gee people up and work them into a state of hypnotic suggestibility so that they’re prepared to bite the bullet and ‘move forward with their lives’. In layman’s terms, her job is to persuade them to get their kecks off.

A series of pointless tasks follows. A primal scream session, a period of smashing up computers taken straight from Office Space, the keeping of a ‘mirror diary’ and some public speaking in front of people who were presumably on their way home from the pub and had nothing better to do. There was also abseiling – just to fill in the gaps – and finally, before the money shots, some Big Brother style, at-home bickering between contestants. The fight, incidentally, had absolutely no substance but was treated with epic grandeur by the presenters, who acted as though savage war has broken out. They behaved as though, if the fight was allowed to carry on, there’d only have been mutilated corpses to photograph naked the next day.

After a lengthy, year-long hour they all had their photos taken, slipping off ill-fitting bathrobes and grinning stiffly. One contestant, John, dropped out at this point and it was hard to resist giving him a round of applause for not getting steered into the exploitative route the others were dragged down.

Finally the shots are displayed and some uplifting music kicks in. The viewer is presumably meant to be left convinced that the last hour has given everyone a good feeling about themselves. Stronger and more assertive. Viewer, programme-makers and contestants, all bettered by the sight of some nobodies getting their normal clothes off and standing sheepishly naked in a stately home.

Personally, despite the fact I look like an adonis under these stained garments, I could never go on one of these shows. Obviously I believe they work wonders for all involved, but I get on rather well with my neuroses. My hang-ups have been keeping me going for years. If I wasn’t a paranoid, insecure mess, I wouldn’t be where I am today – so hold back on the approach, BBC Three. I’m simply not interested.

One Minute Review: Great Ormond Street

February 25, 2009

It’s a good cause, it uses fitting imagery and the theme is well executed. Just please, please, PLEASE take the song away from the mix because it’s driving me insane.

I watch The Wright Stuff every morning, for my sins, and the Great Ormond Street advert always manages to catch me off guard, despite the fact it’s on during every ad break, twice. And, for reasons only they could explain, the tune they employ is Athlete’s ‘Wires’ – which is one of those songs with one of those melodies that sounds pleasant enough the first time, but then, like any similar slice of poison by Coldplay or Snow Patrol, it burrows its way into your consciousness and installs itself, virus-like within your lobes and before you know it, it’s playing in your mind as you wash the dishes. It’s blaring behind your eyes as you try to take a dump. It’s following you to the chip shop. It’s round your Nan’s house. It’s IN YOUR BED.

And the worst of it is, it’s there for life. Even if you only hear that first minor chord bashed accidentally on a detuned piano, your memory crank will turn and fire a synapse playing the whole, turgid symphony back, strings and all in the back of your brain as you claw at your own face, bleeding from nostrils and tear ducts as you whimper along to the tune, helpless and dribbling.

The last thing I need is a respectable charity triggering this kind of psychological damage, so please, Great Ormond Street, for the love of God, STOP!

One Minute Review: Duffy’s Coke Ad

February 24, 2009

Forgive my ignorance, but apart from the opening bars of Rockferry (or whatever it’s called) I hadn’t really heard Duffy’s singing voice. I ran for cover whenever her stuff came on the radio or TV fearing MOR, cod-Motown miserablism.

Last night, the above came on television and I thought I was being hoaxed. Is that genuinely her voice? Is that the caterwaul that garnered three Brit awards?

It sounds like someone’s pulling on her piles! It sounds like someone’s kicking a kitten and farting in a foghorn! It’s the most disturbing cola advert I’ve ever seen! Apart from the New Generation one.

It’s horrific.

Just a Thought – Jade on LivingTV

February 24, 2009

jade-goody-jack-tweed1

My interest in reality television runs its course when a series ends. The resulting deals – guest spots on the Tuesday Night Project, tabloid coverage, Heat covers, OK covers, Hello covers,  Now covers, Next covers – they’re all for morons, right?

Right.

So what the hell is going on with the coverage of Jade at the moment? The bizarre, sentimental freakiness of the last few days is enough to turn the stomach – both at the soft-focus, Max Clifford exploitation festival it’s becoming and also at the outright hypocrisy that’s dribbling out of the television and from the mouths of idiot journalists.

It’s not just the tabloid press. The higher-minded (but just as manipulative) broadsheets and nightly talking heads are also enjoying a spurt of repulsive self-analysis, disguised as altruism and goodwill. I’ve seen features on Newsnight and in The Observer and The Times – and no doubt I’ve missed many others.

Jade Goody occupies a very weird position in public knowledge. She’s the epitomy of the untalented celebrity, celebrated for nothing. Her normality is what made her famous and with fame as her ultimate aim, once she reached that peak there was nothing left for her to do but milk it. She was born without a silver spoon and with no talent to speak of, so all she could do was sell herself. And bizarrely, people handed over their cash.

The worst thing about this current state of affairs is the presence of circling vultures, literally waiting for the death of their prey before they can cash in their chips. So – I’ll share a few of my questions before my head implodes at this phenomenon.

  • Who is actually watching LivingTV’s ‘Jade’ – her new reality show in which the casual, morbid voyeur can watch a familiar face degenerating and dying?
  • Isn’t this a shameful enterprise, devoid of actual, meaningful content and consisting of nothing other than celebrity death?
  • It’s tasteful enough when it’s onscreen, but isn’t the screen soiled with sensationalism and grotesquery when the show’s switched off?
  • Who is that buys ‘Hello’ magazine so they can gawk at shots of Jack and Jade sharing their last, personal moment in front of millions?
  • How much does Max Clifford make in all this?

Jade and her family are being exploited to the tune of a few a thousand quid, earning it in a grim race against time so they can chuck soiled notes in a gaping grave. It’s as simple as that.

‘Ah’ – they counter… ‘but who is exploiting who?!’

As they say this they make that ‘aren’t I clever?’ face and raise an eyebrow as though they’ve made the most brilliant and insightful second hand comment in history. And, to be fair, it’s a difficult question to answer – the money she’ll receive will be monumental… but where’s the soul? The dignity? The meaning?

Can somebody let me know?

Let’s Dance For Comic Relief – Ep. 1

February 23, 2009

I apologise.

I said harsh things about Let’s Dance For Comic Relief before it had even aired and, having watched it, I feel a bloody fool. For its opening twenty-five minutes, this was decent Saturday night television. Apart from one section, which bordered on indecent, as you can see in the Youtube link above.

Twenty five minutes’ amusement during  a show that goes on (and on) for over an hour and a half may not seem like much, but three items of televisual gold accompanied by Steve Jones managing not to be a complete cock can’t be bad. Jonesy was actually better than bearable – and Winkleman was alright too. What the hell is going on?

The show opened with Eastenders’ Minty (the fat mechanic) and Christian (the gay stud) taking part in a High School Musical routine with such gusto and effort that it was impossible not to be swept up in its charm. Christian, in particular, had some eye-opening moves and Minty, television’s nicest fictional character, was gamely trying to keep time. With the feelgood blast of the High School Musical enterprise in the background, only a hard-hearted bastard could’ve complained.

Next up, Christopher Biggins and Nicki Chapman, whilst not carrying the same charisma as the previous pairing, provided some entertainment – mainly stemming from the fact that the spherical Biggins chose to walk through the set rather than dance, still managing to work up a slick sweat despite his inertia. Wearing a black Glitter-wig and running his hands over Chapman’s body, Biggins looked like a genial sex-offender. Which is pretty much his schtick anyway.

But it was the third act that caused a dangerous level of hysteria in this household. Lincolnshire lad, Robert Webb’s routine as the welding girl from Flashdance was so far out there it sent the viewer into confused spasms. The leotard, the Frank-n-Furter wig were frankly disturbing but the way they interplayed with the precision of his dance-moves… for a couple of seconds I honestly thought my other half was going to pass out, either from laughing, shock or desire. I had to press pause so we could gather ourselves. It was so far out there that it’s impossible to describe, so watch the clip if you haven’t seen it. I still think watching Webb’s act has damaged a small part of my brain.

After that, and with an hour left to go, the rest of this extravaganza was plops, I’m afraid. Well worth the entrance money for Webb’s dance alone – but the fact that Dick and Dom won out over the Eastenders twosome with their tediously by-the book Blues Brothers wackiness is nothing short of a national disgrace. A plague on Dick and Dom.