Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Trash TV

In a fiendish, desperately bad attempt in order to make myself commit some sort of errata to this sort-of-journal/place to bitch, I shall waffle on needlessly on whatever is unfortunate enough to pop into my head. I could of course, again bemoan my utter lack of inspiration and motivation when it comes to writing, but seeing as I have already filled several notebooks generally on that subject, that too has worryingly worn itself out as a source of inspiration.
I shall instead write about, in order to worsen your no doubt poor opinion of yours truly, about trash T.V. This has very much become a great passion of mine of the course of the last few months, combining both my loves of lethargy (daytime T.V is a goldmine for this sort of thing) and of mindless sensationalist twaddle. I have yet to find anything too spurious, disgusting or graphic not to enthrall me. A few prime examples I could no doubt draw your attention to, so that you to can become a mindless addict with the physique of a bin-bag full of mayonnaise and a vampire-like aversion to natural light (you know you want to)include Really's 'Cheaters.' This is a show in which presenter Joey Greco and his ever morphing-hair (watch it and you'll see what I mean) is backed up by a team of private investigators as they try to unravel affairs with the aid of covert surveillance and filming, ending in a often awkwardly hilarious confrontation scene, where the guilty party, Greco, and the person being cheated on argue/physically confront each other/stab Greco (this honestly happened in one episode) and ultimately make the whole breaking-up process as publicly awkward and uncomfortable as possible. Delightfully ghoulish, I thoroughly recommend you watch it.
Other delightful examples in this veritable Pantheon of crud include such delights as 'Man Versus Food', occasionally shown on Dave, in which a increasingly obese presenter (who has such charisma I forget his name) tackles some of the most gargantuan and vile creations in the world of cuisine. Wherever this presenter goes, a loving and whooping crowd is always there to cheer him on wherever he may be this week (for the sake of example, lets say he's eating a 400lb. Haggis in Frog Balls, Arkansas) as though he is some sort of gladiatorial champion besting a lion in the ring. Sheer genius and a another recommendation from me. But dear friends, I have saved the best for last. Foolishly cast aside at 1:45 in the BBC1 lunchtime schedule, Britain's best (and only) daytime soap opera Doctors truly is the champion of so good it's bad television. Not just for any reason has my friend Ed Goodson (who goes under the stage name 'Shouty Shit Stuff' oddly enough) has composed a song called 'Doctors is the best show on television.' I do believe Doctors is the natural successor to the mantle Crossroads once held. Held, as the name suggests, in a Doctors surgery, set within the strangely underpopulated town of Letherbridge, (though oddly displaying the dimensions of Birmingham, where it is filmed) Everyday myriad problems present themselves within the course of the episode to the doctors, nurses and secretaries, often entailing bizarre, often confusing and unintentionally hilarious sub-plots juggling for space with the goings-on of the staff, who seem to have a disproportionate amount of time to deal with leisure activities and home visits given they work in a doctors surgery. But then again, given that more than 3 patients never seem to be seen in the surgery at any given time (which I suppose is because of the budget of 30p) means they can get away with this shit. The other half of the time when it isn't all jolly subplots and larks a plenty at the surgery, Doctors gets away with dealing with surprisingly grim subjects, such as assault, rape, child abuse and murder. Hardly standard lunch time fare. This is isn't really the problem, but the fact that it deals with such sensitive subjects so horribly clumsily it makes the entire show unintentionally hilarious half of the time, and dreadfully awkward the other half. So if you take anyting from this load of waffle and half-truth, remember only this- watch Doctors, the greatest show currently on British television. If it isn't an advert for the relevance of the BBC in the 21st century, I don't know what is.

Monday, 20 February 2012

10 O'Clock Live.

Oh Channel 4, back in the eighties you truly did make efforts towards programming that was not only sincerely entertaining, but also highlighted the social and political inequities of the Thatcherite system. Soaps such as 'Brookside', films that highlighted the situation of minorities and extent of social deprivation such as 'My Beautiful Laundrette', and biting satire (at least the stuff not featuring Ben Elton) such as the 'Comic Strip Presents'.
Nowadays Channel 4 seem perfectly happy with racist and wildy inaccurate 'documentaries' about gypsies and the traveller community and thoroughly bizarre game show formats, often with the unwanted addition of a bitchy voice-over. Perhaps out of a slight sense of guilt, Channel 4 tried to redress this balance towards alternative, left-of-centre programming, by last year commissioning a new weekly satire show '10 O'Clock Live' starring the comedians Charlie Brooker, David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and Lauren Laverne. It was shit.
After it finished its run last year, there was much discussion about whether it would be renewed for another series. And amazingly enough, it has been, though with no heedance whatsoever to the widespread criticism and suggestions for improvement levelled at the programme. As I'm a helpful/dickish guy Channel 4, I'll give you some tips.
Firstly, cut down on your number of presenters. Charlie Brooker is of course suited to satirical news discussion given the brilliant and often savage Newswipe and Screenwipe on BBC4 and generally the segments he presents on the programme often feel like they could have been lifted verbatim from one of these shows. Mitchell too can be witty and insightful, and is no stranger to proposing a argument whilst making it funny, as his online SoapBox series proves. My main beef is with Carr and Laverne. They are just not suited in anyway for current affairs satire. Their pieces, (in Carr's case especially)are often stilted and awkward and feel more like a group of right-on students at a secondary school have tried to mount a daring lampoon of the educational system by calling the headmaster a poo-head. This stilted awkward feeling only increases when they all the presenters gather round the table to argue and discuss the current affairs issues of the day. Irritatingly they seem to take this part seriously. This makes it far from looking like a bunch of comics riffing off each other to make jokes about whats happening in the world, like it would be on Have I Got News For You, but more like a group of close, but mis-guided friends trying to opine seriously on something they know fuck-all about. Or perhaps more accurately, like an episode of Question Time where the panel entirely comprises of celebrity guests.
The awkwardness that seems to surround 10 O'Clock Live like an invisible fog is only exacerbated by the fact that it is LIVE. Why would you do this? There's no feasible benefit to recording live, unless you actively want your presenters to occasionally fluff lines, leave gaps and dead air, and sometimes say things that, oh, I don't know, aren't funny? HIGNFY or the Daily Show don't record live, and are all the better for it, the semi-scripted material complimenting that of the actual discussion and improvisation. The only reason I could possibly think of 10 O'Clock wanting to do something so risky is that it would be able to present itself on the forefront, cutting edge, the beating heart, the racing pulse, the blah-blah-blah of current affairs satire, which doesn't really work when the show you present is as about as awkward as someone shitting themselves at a funeral.
Overall, 10'O Clock Live. That was the week that was it is not.