Posts Tagged ‘Crap TV’

Just a Thought – Eastenders Quarantine

January 21, 2009

ben mitchell

We’ve mentioned this before, but where the hell do soap characters go when they’re not required?

Any one episode will feature three or four theads, right? These usually involve around six families. So what happens if a character’s not required? Are we supposed to imagine that they’re still about, just doing their usual thing whilst all the drama in their life is put on hold until the cameras can be arsed to start rolling in front of them?

For example – where the hell has Gary been in Eastenders for the past month? Minty too has been missing for a while – only appearing in what might be considered a cameo role, having a chuckle about the new massage parlour for all of a minute before wafting off back into the ether.

Ben’s gone AWOL too, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some reports have inferred that he’s shaved his head, stuck on a white smock and is currently trying to rebrand Little Chef, but these are unconfirmed.

ALL of the Bianca clan have vanished. My better half tells me they’re on holiday – but I suspect that, like the others mentioned, they’ve been packed off to Quarantine.

Shirl’s in quarantine too – with a suspected dose of madness, what with all the lusting after Phil she’s been up to recently. Another character who’s currently surplus to requirements, she sits in plot limbo, idly twiddling her thumbs until the voyeurs demand she come back.

Eastenders Quarantine is, I presume, a lonely place. Surely there must be a more humane way of freezing time for the Walford residents as we viewers, standing like Greek Gods over their fates, get on with the most important plot points, or take a break from the more intense storylines? The thought of them shivering in Quarantine until such time as they’re recalled – or sent off packing to The Bill for eternity – leaves me cold.

Golden Globes – Winslet’s Acceptance Speech

January 13, 2009

Did you see the clip above on the news yesterday?

It made my blood boil with impotent fury.

Acceptance speeches, along with awards shows, are meaningless idiot-parades. Winslet’s Golden Globe means as little to the public at large as the award I gave myself for washing up last night after I tackled a particularly challenging pot. Why should anyone care?

The most grating aspect of any acceptance speech is, of course, the fake-sincerity. And as far as that goes, Winslet delivers a belter. From the expression her face creases into as she walks to the stage (veering between death throes and hyperactive delight), to the squeals of forced delight as she hugs her wealthy husband on the way up.

Then she apologises to the other nominees, forgetting Jolie’s name in the process, hilariously, and everyone chuckles at just how normal she is. Streep looks on, so pleased for Kate, whilst Angelina grits her teeth and crushes Brad Pitt’s fragile hand between her thighs under the tablecloth.

As she tells herself to ‘gather’, twice and then reels off a pre-prepared list of thankyous, the thing that strikes you – and if you’ve ever watched an awards show before, it won’t be the first time – is the arrogant self-importance of it all. As though these awards, or the Oscars for that matter, actually carry any meaning. As if this film is worthwhile  simply because a panel of bores thinks it is, rather than the public who largely are yet to even see it.

By the time she’s thanking hair and makeup, you thank Christ she manages to stop herself short. But then she carries on and is licking the boots of Leonardo DiCaprio. Cut to Leo himself, lapping up the praise as a paid-for-patsy tugs him under the table.

In a final incestuous flourish, she thanks her husband (who directed the film)
and, by this point, the one fake tear she managed to prise out of dry tearducts has run down the length of her cheek, so she’s doing that Hollywood motion whereby sobs are produced without the presence of moisture so that it looks like the sobber themself is a mentally challenged toddler.

Can’t we make awards ceremonies less regular? Every five years maybe?

Paul McKenna – I Can Make You Thin

January 8, 2009

I was always pretty much indifferent when it came to hypnosis, until a friend started training to become a clinical hypnotherapist. When he told me about the training he was undergoing I enjoyed using words like ‘piffle’ and ‘mumbo jumbo’ as he recounted the details. He took it with good grace, and we agreed to disagree.

Then recently, I read Derren Brown’s Tricks of the Mind in which, in his signature style, he discusses the subject very frankly and gives an insight into the techniques involved. I tried a couple of the rudimentary examples he gives and found that, on a basic level, they work. As he recommended, I continued – purely out of curiosity – to read up on the subject, trying at all costs to avoid the more commercial end of the market. There are, after all, clearly hypnotists out there who are as interested in lining their pockets as they are concerned for helping people out.

Then I decided to give up smoking and got my hands on an eight minute mp3 of Paul McKenna which guaranteed it could help to cancel cravings. Essentially, in this little transmission, it simply forced you to create an association between the craving and something you personally find horrendous. I chose turds with all hairs sticking out. Seriously.

It worked, for a week. I’d never given up for more than 24 hours before this little revelation – and the only reason I got back on the smokes again was because a life-changing event happened the following week, making me lose focus. Impressed, I got hold of more of McKenna’s stuff (hiding it from everyone, as it’s all got a self-help stigma following it about like a nasty smell), but with all of his other programmes, possibly because I don’t need them, I found them overlong and cheese-ridden.

McKenna’s main problem is that his techniques are all grounded in proven clinical methodology, but these alone aren’t commercially viable. To get around that, he dresses one or two simple directives in so much marketing blabber (an easy bedfellow of the suggestive language of hypnosis), that it begins to feel like he’s not only trying to change a habit – he’s also trying to make you sign up to McKenna LTD.

I was surprised that Living TV wasn’t showing his ‘I Can Make You Thin’ on a subscription basis. Again, tuning in out of  curiosity,  you find more of the same.  If you want to lose weight (I don’t, particularly), this programme will probably help and save you the expense and hassle of Atkins style crash diets.

That said, it’ll cost you in other departments. In the one episode I’ve seen, one technique – the negative association craving-buster I mentioned before – was demonstrated over the course of an hour. This took around 10 minutes. The rest of the hour was concerned with testimonials, case studies and non-stop, advertising blather.

McKenna sells techniques that work very well, but his real strength is in selling himself. The show is like some weird, apolitical rally. It’s like you’ve walked into a bizarre, born again Christian sermon, in which only 5% of the content is actually discernible – the rest being a confusing spectrum of superficially pleasing waffle-bollocks.

I preferred it when he was making people cluck like chickens on ITV.

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.

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?

NewsGush: Leotards on!

December 4, 2008


He’s back!

This January, GMTV is stepping up to tackle Britain’s growing obesity problem with the UK’s biggest ever health challenge. And helping the breakfast TV station is a familiar face – Mr. Motivator is back and he means business.

I can’t contain myself.

I must check if my all-in-one spandex bodysuit is still at the bottom of the wardrobe. I can’t wait to tackle my weight, get back in motion and shift this enormous paunch with the help of Mr. M.

Imagine him doing a sex on Mad Lizzy


Iceland Christmas Advert 2008

December 2, 2008

We live in a world where atrocities occur each and every day. Whether that be the systematic rape and imprisonment of children, the genocide of entire races of people or the false imprisonment and torture of ethnic minorities, few can deny that the world can be an ugly and brutal place.

Despite knowing of the depths of man’s inhumanity to man, despite being aware of the full capacity of evil that exists within human beings it’s still hard to imagine anything – anything – worse than the prospect of having to watch the Iceland Christmas advert again.

When the final city falls, the last creature dies and we are visited by alien beings eager to learn the tragic circumstances of our downfall (much like the ending to Steven Spielbergs A.I., in fact) they will look upon this moment and realise that everything can be attributed to the release and distribution of this advert.

As the souls of the damned burn in eternal hellfire they will be forced to watch this medley of frozen foods, Christmas carols and ITV stalwarts in ear piercing 3D futuroscope. On an endless loop, it will pierce their retinas and they will begin their unanswered cries for mercy, knowing that only an appearance by Christopher Biggins could deepen their pain.

It’s a distant and terrifying world for me; the world where frozen pepperoni kebabs hawked by fake-tittied junkies, self-hating right-wingers and formally famous pop stars can be considered appealing. These are the dregs of the celebrity world; end of the pier daytime TVers more famous for their lives than their talents – yet somehow their endorsements are seen as encouragable.

The planet may be bleeding terror and dying from environmental collapse, the soul of humanity may well be killing itself and bringing destruction upon itself and the capitalistic system may be bringing us to the edge of a societal implosion but real evil – deep true evil, the kind Buffy used to battle – is reserved for inside the cathode rayed nipple in the corner of the room, the glowing box which bears the names Katona, Nolan and Donovan.

Fear them, for they will destroy us all.

The Monday Question: Whatever the bloody hell ever happened to…?

December 1, 2008

The likes of I’m a Celebrity and Celebrity Big Brother, along with lesser rivals CelebAir and Celebrity Scissorhands, remind us what happens to those washed up once-were-gonna-bes who were once instantly recognisable before fashions and our memories move on.

David VD from this year’s jungle experiment is the perfect example. The man is a bizarre, plasticated nobody who is convinced he’s somebody. His gnashing white teeth and blonde highlights give him the false impression that he still counts. He’s firmly of the impression that it wouldn’t take a forceful nudge, a rummage through wikipedia or a blow to the head for Joe Public to have any recall on who he is. Or was. We had, quite simply, forgotten he existed…

But now we have the internet, IMDB and the aforementioned Wikipedia we are empowered. We CAN find out where these barely remembered TV-folk have got to. We don’t need I’m a Celebrity or any of these piss-poor vehicles – all we need is the power of our memories to recall them and then we can google about instead of doing any work until we have their entire working history before our eyes.

Case Study 1:

Tinker out of Lovejoy

Poor Old Tinker had a sinister face and white hair like an evil gremlin. Whenever he came onscreen, children shrieked and tiny underpants throughout the nation were soiled with screamer-shits and worried piss.
But where is Tinker now?

Just a cursory glance over IMDB shows me that Tinker’s been a busy bastard doing the compulsory stints in Emmerdale, Casualty and The Bill, etc… but was also, presumably, Danny Dyer’s Dad in the Football Factory – literally one of the worst films I’ve seen! Dudley Sutton (that’s his real name) was also Wilfred in Eastenders, latterly. Weirdly, I seem to have blanked this from my mind. He’ll always be Tinker to me.

Let’s have another…

Case Study 2:

mike morris

Mike bloody Morris

Plucking a name and face from my mind, inexplicably, Mike Morris pops into view. Mike fucking Morris, who I hated as a child with no good reason. Mike Morris, scourge of local news programme Look North, serving Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire with his impotent, bawdy humour. Despicable Mike Morris, later of TVAM, with his strawberry blonde moustache and clearcut homoerotic obsession with Richard Keyes.

Mike Morris made me angry at the world I lived in – he unreasonably became, to my childish eyes, the personifaction of everything shameful there is about being a man. Moustaches, stupid toothy grins and a lack of ability when communicating with women (Christa Ackroyd). He was clearly seething that he’d never attain the popularity of people’s favourite, Harry Gration – who, incidentally, looked just like my Biology teacher, Mr Vickers.

But where’s that evil Mike Morris now?

Apparently he doesn’t work in television any more. Thanks for putting my mind at rest, Digitalspy .

And to finish off:

Case Study 3:

That Ferreira girl out of Eastenders

Remember that really badly written Asian family in Easties? I know – there are a few to choose from in Eastenders’ chequered past. But the daughter in this one looked like she might go quite far. She was good looking and could just about act… so it was weird to see her sink without trace when the family got axed from the show.

Like some guilty internet stalker, I find her immediately via the BBC website. With her real, actual name, I trawl IMDB to see that, shock of shocks, she featured in The Bill after Eastenders – a familiar career curve. Blimey… she was in Bend it like Beckham too…

A look at her personal website reaps no rewards as it’s not been updated since 2007, but IMDB tells me she’s soon to feature in movie Cash & Curry. Check out the website. I think it’s going to be a MUST SEE for 2009.

End of Case Studies

So –  if there’s some actor, presenter or pundit you’ve lost track of in the midsts of time, get on the internet, track them down and let us know …

…whatever the bloody hell ever happened to them?