Posts Tagged ‘Channel 4’

Just a Thought: Desperate Housewives

April 20, 2009

I’d never seen this before, though I recognised some of the actors. Kyle McLaughlin from that Twin Peaks, a lady from the TV series Superman and another one from pictures of her bottom in The Sun, which caused me to look at her face after a while.

My first impression is that it’s complete and utter shit. Everything’s so garish and bright and super-real, like the first twinklings of a hastily consumed microdot at the exact moment you discover all your friends have left you alone in a strange pub. The actors themselves are all clean and symmetrical like children’s painted wooden blocks and the acting follows suit.

Of course, apart from being shit, the look of the show is entirely deliberate. It’s meant to be cod-surreal, a bit ‘weird,’ but the acting is so knowing it completely lacks any subtlety. What wit that may have existed in the first place is condensed unto an unblinking blob of soulless drudgery.

I’m very sure that the makers of this tripe knew they’d cooked a turkey; this is born out in the tooth-grinding score which seeks to emphasis the whole ‘ooh, isn’t this weird’ aspect by employing a pizzicato plinking, plonking string section to imbue every scene with a supposed quirkiness. It’s unbelievably awful. It’s so loud that, even if you wanted to hear the script, your ears have to strain round the pumps of some bored session muso earning his living on his cacky cello.

In one scene the tempo of the score sped up every time the shot featured a male, only to drop to its heartbeat pace when the female mugged into the middle distance. This drone is there all the time; it’s gradually fed into the beginning of scenes and ends them with a self-satisfying ‘plong!’ But it’s also oddly hypnotic and I’m convinced that the incidental music is the key to the programme’s ongoing success.

At first it’s mildly irritating, then it becomes intolerable and all of sudden, your tea is cold and you’ve dribbled all over your pants. The only reason I saw 15 minutes was because I was channel hopping and happened on it. You see, I saw the last 15 minutes; I made it to the end – it was the music that made me do it.

I still don’t understand.

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One Minute Review: Willie’s Chocolate Revolution

April 8, 2009

Oh goodie.

Channel 4 have commissioned yet another outing for William Harcourt-Dodderington-Smythey Twart, his awful family and his chocolate fascism. This follows his first series – in which we followed the exploits of the thoroughly dislikable apeman, his self-important wife and their squealing offspring as they tried to produce weird little chocolate nugget things – and, latterly, Willie’s Chocolate Christmas – a knuckle-bitingly smug stool of aspirational bullshit.

This time, Willie endeavours to create a popular chocolate bar to rival your Twixes, your Dairy Milks and your Aeros. He gets off on entirely the wrong foot with a snobbish diatribe regarding the chocolate we Brits consume, and follows up with a section in Barcelona where a vendor of high end chocolate products gags on one of our high street efforts.

Cheers.

Willie’s on a ‘quest’, we’re told. This is his ‘campaign’, he roars, before making his daughter some ice cream which they eat in the enormous back garden of his mansion. His wife, ‘the lynchpin’ of the operation moans about having to do ten things at once, despite apparently not having a job.

And we’re meant to relate to these people…

Finally, after an hour of chocolatey tedium, Willie jets off to Venezuela to seal a deal with a chocolate kingpin. They settle on a figure in moody, looming darkness, the scene reminiscent of Scarface. The show is shot in that moody stock they use for The Apprentice and every cut, slice and chop has its own camera angle. It looks like a fortune’s been spent filming it while the incidental music indicates it’s something that should be taken very, very seriously.

The problem is, it’s impossible to take seriously. Willie and family are completely dull, upper middle class non-entities and chocolate is just fucking chocolate.

Watching a successful businessman build his brand – when he’s not having the time of his life in the countryside or in the sun-dappled jungle – isn’t really the sort of eye-fodder I’m after in the midst of a credit crunch-saturated media environment. And if this is supposed to be escapism, why all the hand-wringing about Willie’s created-for-TV business problems?

If I want to escape, it won’t be in the company of this lot. Which begs the question, who is it that actually watches and enjoys this guff?

Do they exist solely in the mind of Channel 4 Executives?

Weekend Watching – 02.04.09

April 3, 2009

It’s Friday again and the Friday Question has uncovered some shocking facts about a few among our number…

The next bit of business to deal with is your weekend menu of televisual delight.

Watching anything we should know about? Any hidden gems in the schedules? Any staples we need to catch up on?

Maybe you’re off to the picture house or you’ve rented a movie? Or perhaps you’re an internet pirate and you’ve nicked films off the web cherry tree?

Let us know what you’ll be viewing over the next couple of days.

For my part I’ll be watching the usual – Easties, Newsnight Review, Genius, Harry Hill, MOTD, Come Dine… and I’ll also be feasting my eyes on:

Grand National – if I can be bothered to get to Ladbrokes.
The Wire – as part of my rewatching marathon.
My Little Eye – acclaimed, little known horror on ITV I’ve not yet seen.
Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 – the original, obviously. The remake looks poop.

Over to you…

NewsGush: Secret Millionaire’s Ratings Explosion

March 30, 2009

Last night I watched a middle-aged scrap-yard worker called Gary, who sported a lovely grey mullet, as he exposed himself to a heroin addict, a young man with leukemia and two ancient war veterans.

Stop right there!

He wasn’t exposing his genitals, you dirty sod! He was exposing his emotions!

And the public appear to love it. Apparently, last night’s audience for Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire grew by 800,000 viewers on last week’s.

You lot can’t get enough of this misplaced altruism! You love the sight of someone with a huge amount of independent wealth giving a sliver of it away in public, enjoying the positive PR and washing their hands of past sins in exchange for a week of  mindless generosity.

It’s like Noel’s Christmas Presents without the Christmas. 

The thing that gets me about this moronic show is that, now we’re a few series deep, surely when an ailing charity get a call from Channel 4 saying someone wants to look around and spend some time with them they’re going to have heard word that it’s probably one of these television millionaires. Won’t that destroy the whole point of the worst part of the programme – the cheque handover money-shot?

Can’t we just get the cheque thing out of the way early on and have an actual money-shot at the end? Imagine those two in the above picture in such a tryst! The viewing figures would properly explode. Explosions all round.

Cue: Snow Patrol and tears.

Just a Thought: Weekend Watching

March 27, 2009

So – another week’s passed in a hail of frustration, boredom and bickering and we’ve reached Friday afternoon.

The question on my mind is, what are you lot planning on watching over the weekend?

Any good telly on? What’ve you set your VHS / Sky+ / Virgin Media / brain-memory box for?

Or maybe you’ve got hold of a film to while down the hours…

I reckon I’ll definitely be watching:

Eastenders – A given.
Genius – Because it translated well from radio 4 and I am a fan.
Jonathan Ross – Simply because Larry and Babs are on it.
Newsnight Review – I am a sucker for punishment.
The England Game – Though not in a pub as it’s not worth the hassle.
Harry Hill’s TV Burp – Another given.
Come Dine With Me – Because I’m a pleb.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Volcanos – I am volcano ignorant.

Let me know if there’s anything I should be watching…

WWM Weekly Bastard: Trevor Jordache

March 25, 2009

Shifty off Bread

Over the years, television’s thrown up its fair share of shitbags, bad eggs and turds. We like to call these people ‘Bastards’, and in the first of a new weekly series, we here at WWM turn our sights on that bastard Trevor Jordache – Brookside’s very own Satan made flesh, who slithered onto the close in 1993 …

Tracking down the family he’d abused to a safe house, Trevor used his lovable Irish charm (or: bare-faced lies) to worm his way back into his wife Mandy’s affections, and then quickly set about destroying not only her life, but also the lives of his two daughters, Rachael and Beth.

He took to the bottle, sexually abused his youngest daughter in her bed as his wife slept next door, drove his eldest daughter (who he’d also abused as a little girl) away from home and beat and humiliated his wife Mandy so badly over the course of a year that there was only ever one way this disgusting Irish ratbag’s storyline was going to end: murder.

And what an entertaining murder it was too! First Mandy and Beth tried feeding Trevor weed killer, but that only gave him a stomach ache. Then the two desperate women tried grinding up aspirins in his milk. Catching them in the act, Trevor roared, ‘Yis bloody pair o’ bitches!’, and set about beating his daughter to death. And so, with Trevor otherwise engaged, poor, put-upon Mandy did the decent thing and stabbed the bastard in the back.

Then it was only a matter of burying him under the patio, getting found out, going on the run, ending up in prison, Beth dying of a heart defect whilst banged up, Mandy being acquitted, Trevor’s mother trying to kill her, blah blah blah …

Trevor was the most appalling example of a wife-beating drunken child abuser soap has ever seen. Even Little Mo’s tormentor Trevor (what is it about that name?) couldn’t come close … primarily because he didn’t diddle kids. It is for that reason that we at WWM are proud to announce Trevor Jordache’s inaugeration into the WWM TV Bastards Hall of Fame. Trevor – we salute you, you complete and utter bastard!

Have YOU got a favourite TV bastard? Tell us who it is, and they could appear as a half-arsed filler article in a future edition of your Super Sunshine Watch With Mothers …

Heston’s Tudor Feast

March 19, 2009

The first episode in Heston’s series of Feasts garnered some rave reviews, but I was left scratching my head. Episode two had me running for a sick bucket. This week’s outing made me certain I was watching a literary adaptation of The Emperor’s New Clothes which cunningly attached both the modern culture of semi-celebrity and our great nation’s tedious obsession with food to that marvellous fable and its inherent truth.

The title of the story has become lazy shorthand for trends that have no actual worth, but in this case the similarities in the details are too glaring to ignore. Swindler Heston convinces food critics, celebrities and the rich that his fantastic creations are the finest available, whilst the informed viewer sees just how pointless the whole farrago is. The food critics, celebrities and rich folk, taking on the role of King, eat his wares and claim it’s the most wonderful fare they’ve ever consumed – when the audience can see that it’s not much more than a barely cooked fish covered in its own blood. A disgusting, turkey flavoured milkshake. Or a pie caked in birdshit.

Sadly there’s no small boy present to point out the error of their ways.

It was probably a bad idea on Heston’s part, appearing in this series. Though the ratings are probably good and the press has been positive, we’ve now seen inside his kitchen and had more than our share of seeing his methodology in action. And we’ve also seen that the majority of his output involves pointlessly wacky combinations of incompatible flavours.

The supposed mythical beast last night was a complete rip off – a badly-constructed special effect with a food compartment from which they served chicken roll. The dessert was rice pudding and a sweet puree in the shape of bangers and mash – which is an interesting concept for two minutes, before you remember you’re a grown adult. I remember seeing marzipan fruit as a youngster and being utterly disappointed when I sank my teeth into it. I doubt this was much different.

But that’s half of his game. He makes stuff look like other stuff. He uses sheets and sheets of gelatin to mould stuff into shapes they shouldn’t be in. His approach to food is Willy Wonka – which is fine for the odd novelty sweet, but for a main of meat and veg seems dashed silly. This isn’t really cookery – it’s a grown man playing about with ingredients as if they’re play-doh and serving them to star-struck idiots who’ve been told to behave as though it’s the height of sophistication.

The likes of Jay Rayner, Alex Zane and Cilla Black may coo over the food, declaring it to be amazing, but their plaudits seem a little hollow. It’s as though they’d expected riches and been confronted by the flabby girth of their own pomposity, as swindler Heston chuckled in the background.

Boys & Girls Alone

February 11, 2009

Boys & Girls Alone Channel 4

I hated being a child. I chuckle with glee when I spot a grey hair on my thinning crown and dance a jig on my doddering old legs in celebration of the fact that I’m one increment further away from the horrendous swamp of bright colours and squawking idiocy that was childhood.

Childhood mainly seemed to involve making friends (often based on who could run fastest), those friends eventually pissing you off, you pissing them off in return and ultimately one of your number (possibly you) being ejected from favour and left to wallow in immature misery on the sidelines. With grass-stains all over your shorts and scabs on your knees. And then you’d get home late as a result and get a ruddy good telling off for your troubles from those looming, intolerable swines you were forced to call parents.

Childhood’s little more than a prolonged period of mania, like a horrible, frenetic dream. You’re constantly searching for answers and coming up short because you lack the experience to form conclusions. And if you’re not wandering around in a tight circle, despairing in the midst of what could be existential angst – but you don’t know because you’re too young to figure out what that actually means – you’re wasting the best years of your life absorbed in digging a hole in the garden with a spoon. And then getting told off for digging a hole in the garden and for bending the cutlery, again.

The concept of sharing stuff with your pals and siblings was one of the hardest ideas to get your soft head around. You were handed a bag of crisps, say, and your first instinct, wasn’t to say thankyou. You’d have to be prompted to do that. You’re not, in that first moment, remotely concerned with saving them for later.

You want to wolf them all down, every last maize snack or potatoey morsel. You don’t want to give a single scrap to anyone near you. You want to hide in a cupboard until you’ve stuck them all in your stomach and you’re damned if anyone’s going to stop you. But adults would make you share your crisps as you sat there in hand-me-down, discoloured trousers, diluting all the fun in one breath of unreasonable reason. The long-bodied bastards.

The worst of it all is that you didn’t know what you had until it had buggered off, leaving you in a bedsit with an overdraft and loads of forms to fill in. Suddenly it had all gone away, and those old sods who stopped you taking your Speak ‘n’ Spell into the bath had stopped giving you pizza and making your bed.

So I don’t envy the kids in Channel 4’s Boys & Girls Alone. They’re in the midst of an orgy of awful insanity, filled with thumps, recrimination and bitching arguments. After that, they’ve got a festival of hair-sprouting, self-doubt and insecurity to go through before they’re left to face the world of work without any real assistance (after a stint of humiliating themselves through ill-judged activities at University, if they’re unlucky enough to be shunted in that direction).

I feel even more sorry for them in that their own folks felt it’d be a good idea to stick them in a same-sex house for a couple of weeks unsupervised (apart from the odd social worker, solely placed there to prevent them from killing one another).

Two episodes have been and gone and the kids, in isolation, are charming. Full of hope and innocence, they trundle along contentedly or speed around willy nilly, without a care in the world. But the moment they come head to head with one another, as the production team probably predicted, fireworks follow. So many arguments, tears, physical and mental abuse, so much confused ideology smashed heartlessly by common sense, that it makes excellent television, but to describe it would be hopeless. With minds this undeveloped, it’s impossible to characterise or stereotype any of the infants as they’re learning every single day exactly who they are. Each one is simultaneously a bully and a victim, or an idiot and a genius in one stunted parcel.

As for the argument that this could impact negatively on the kids, I don’t buy it. I went on a PGL Adventure Holiday when I was a youngster – and the bizarre and ludicrous event that is ‘cub camp’ – and the antics we got up to on those jaunts (setting fire to a dead rabbit, force-feeding a fat kid dry pasta, reading lots of split-beaver porn and smoking proper fags) would put these kids to shame in the bad behaviour department.

The fact it’s televised is the only danger, I reckon. But these short-arse runts can just blame the whole thing on Mum and Dad when they become spotty adolescents. They’re bound to blame everything else on them anyway, so it won’t change a thing.