Posts Tagged ‘ TV ’

#telosvision: fall shows up

greetings tellybox fans

summer has gone, and it’s that time of year when i share my thoughts and opinions about the treats that are being offered up by bosses in TVville for our Autumn/Fall delectation. please accept my apologies that this year’s offerings have arrived so late, but for some reason i’ve just not been able to sit down and get this post written before now. in my defence, there is a lot to consider this year, in fact, that in order not to overface you i’ve divided things up into two posts, this first one will handle shows from the States and a subsequent one will examine British programmes.

as far as i’m concerned it’s something of a vintage in terms of returning series in the US, with quality reigning over quantity – however, i have to say that i’m less enthused by the new offerings than i would like and suspect the opposite is true where they are concerned.

however, let’s just pause a moment to honour some shows to which we are wishing farewell as they prepare to wrap up for a long Winter sleep. last night, for example, saw the finale of another great season of Louie. i laughed (a lot) i cried (a bit) and the cameos by David Lynch are perhaps my favourite of all in the three seasons so far. while the final episode of this season was in the tradition of the more muted, reflective ones, the scene where Louie attempts to reattach the doll’s eyes, and in particular his use of the phrase “shit on my father’s balls” was up there with my favourites.

the other big loss to me was The Newsroom, which wrapped at the end of August and was definitely my favourite new show of 2012 so far. despite having possibly the sappiest credit sequence in television history and being sort of a remake of his comic-drama from 2006/7 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – which i liked but was, despite being not really very similar, deemed too similar to 30 Rock to be renewed – Aaron Sorkin’s latest TV offering really grabbed me.

the performances were pretty much all-round excellent, with Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Olivia Munn (xxxx) and Sam Waterston deserving of special praise. possibly most impressive of all, however, was Dev Patel, who for the first time ever did acting that i didn’t TOTALLY HATE, but actually sort of liked. quite incredible. however … i don’t know what it is about Sorkin, but i always seem to like the stuff everyone else hates (A Few Good Men, Studio 60) and vice-versa (The West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, Moneyball). i’m honestly not trying to be contrary, but if my track record is anything to go by, despite being renewed for a second season, The Newsroom might want to watch it’s back.

anyway, not wanting to dwell on what has passed, let’s turn to the shows that are being being unwrapped and placed back on the shiny shelf. (nb. when it comes to stuff i’ve already seen, whilst i will be mentioning some aspects, i will, as always, try hard not to drop any significant spoiler-bombs.)

for those of you who aren’t up to speed with any of the returning series mentioned but would like to be, this post comes to you sponsored by BBC iPlayer, 4OD, Hulu, HideIPVPN (which is just my favourite of the many online services that can help you to watch Hulu when not in the US or iPlayer when not in the UK) and probably most importantly of all watchseries.eu, which is the place to go to catch up with previous or current seasons of pretty much any major series that has so far eluded you. the internets are brilliant, peeps, use them.

returning shows

Treme: top of the tree, the long awaited return of the brilliant New Orleans-based drama created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer, who as far as i’m concerned are giants among men in a metaphorical world where being able to reach high things is a sign of wisdom, decency, truthfulness and beauty. wheel number one of what i’m calling ‘the Sunday Trike of Awesome’, season 3 began Sunday last and is already right back up to speed. David Simon has always stuck to the same logic – “follow the money”. with two years now between itself and Katrina, NOLA (and the Tremé in particular) still has a long way to go. housing is still the hot topic, and there’s plenty of green notes to be made, if you know the right people. meanwhile, everyone else will just have to keep fighting just to stay put. [HBO, Sundays, 10PM ET – or here]

Boardwalk Empire: Sunday Trike of Awesome wheel number two stands in the shape of season 3 of Terence Winter’s artfully crafted, cruel and awkward prohi-era surviveathon. there are some series that it’s really not worth going back and starting on if you missed the boat first time round, but this is not one of them – for those who’ve been slow on the uptake hereabouts, you really need to get on board. that having been said, i won’t add too much by means of comment on this season other than to say that as long as Chalky White is around to see what becomes of AC under the redoubled if not exactly untroubled Thompson regime and to witness the inevitable increase in focus on New York and Chicago then i’m happy. [HBO, Sundays, 9PM ET – or here]

Homeland: wheel three is season 2 of Showtime’s big hitter from last Autumn (which i only caught up with when it was broadcast here in this Spring). as regular readers might remember, i took a few episodes to get into Homeland – again, the credits were a significant turn off – but i eventually became hooked. you might also remember, however, that despite my enhookedment, i had some reservations concerning both its sexual ethics and the role of mental illness. in the end, i was sad to see that it fell into a couple of the mental illness pitfalls that i’d laid out, and i’d say the whole thing about sexuality still has a way to go before all the cards are on the table. however, reservations not withstanding, this time round it has definitely been upgraded to my ‘watch US broadcast’ list.

season 2 premiered on Sunday, but don’t worry i won’t give anything away. he’s made it all the way from tutoring a terrorist’s son in Afghanistan to sitting in the US Congress, but deep down i think we all know that he’s still, he’s still Brody from the hole. expect a lot more drawn-out squinting and secret Muslimising to distrustful music from Brody, and pestering from the CIA plus drawn-out ambiguity over how long it will take her to remember the link between Brody and Nazir’s son (that inconveniently solidified in her head seconds before her ECT began) from Carrie. [Showtime, Sundays, 10PM ET – or here]

New Girl: i’m still not really sure why i like New Girl quite as much as i do. but i really do. like it. in spite of her name, i’ve always liked Zooey Deschanel and she’s definitely one of the reasons it works so well, but the thing i wasn’t really prepared for was the writing being so consistently great. from the outside it might look a bit flyaway, like it’s on the same level as something trivial like The Big Bang Theory, but it’s not. it’s actually really good. I can honestly say that i desire nothing more from season 2 than more of the same, please. [Fox, Tuesdays from 9th Oct, 9PM ET – or here]

new shows

Vegas: let’s start with CBS’s headliner, which sets out to tell the story of the early days of Sin City seemingly by mainly pitting just-in-from-Chicago casino boss Vincent Savino – played by Vic from The Shield (Michael Chiklis) looking more like a bulky Bruce Willis than ever – against Ralph Lamb, Dennis Quaid’s brooding old-skool-Nevada-rancher/lawman. at the start of the pilot, grizzed ol’ man Lamb, who was a distinguished MP during the war, is installed as an emergency Deputy Sheriff while the current Sheriff hides from some mobsters that he double crossed and ‘ratted out’ to the authorities. Lamb just wants to run his ranch in peace, but, since that stupid big dam got built, the small city that’s sprung up near his land is becoming a pain in his skinny, Lee-clad ass.

what he doesn’t want is planes to fly over his land, or fancy, arrogant Italian out-of-towners to climb above their stations. what he does want is to punch people in the face and wear his Stetson. can you guess who’s the Sheriff of Las Vegas by the end of the first episode? it’s good to see that Carrie-Anne Moss is slowly working her way back from Matrix-enduced shame, i’ve long rated her as an actor, and to my eyes she looks far better in a shift dress now than she did in leather trousers back then. while there is some crossover in terms of style, content or arc, Vegas definitely doesn’t have the requisite seriousness to be on par with Boardwalk Empire, or Mad Men, or Scorsese’s Casino, and after the pilot i can’t say whether it’s going to turn out to be worth watching at all, but i’d like it to be, so i’m in for at least the first three episodes. [CBS, Tuesdays, 10PM ET – or here]

Revolution: J.J. Abrams has really taken the whole ‘EPing a TV series is the new directing a movie’ thing to heart, but should we trust him after Lost? well, Jon Favreau directs the pilot of this slightly odd post-technopalyptic sci-fi-a-rama and despite it being slightly infected with the dreaded expositionitus, and genuinely containing of the lines “It’s happening, isn’t it?!”, “Family? Kid, I don’t even know you!” and “You know, I didn’t ask you to come back”, i almost liked it. basically, one day, everything electronic and also (for some unexplained reason) engines stopped working and fifteen years later a fragile society is living hand-to-mouth in a part wild-west, part medieval Europe type scenario. this society is ruled by some sort of warlord and one family is keeping a very powerful secret from him and everyone else.

we’re supposed to be wondering about this small, silver USB drive/scarab necklace thing that might be the key to what happened to the tech, but i spent the whole time trying to work out how twenty somethings in a small isolated community could have perfectly fitting jeans, leather jackets and make-up so long after the end of all mechanised industry. that, and why, despite relying on basically the same physical principles, guns fire and oil lamps burn, but combustion engines don’t work. why fifteen years after it fell (hilariously unrealistically) from the sky, there’s a perfectly untouched plane sitting in the middle of a field, why, if you lived in a world where someone holding a crossbow sideways above their head can repel downward blows from a sword at close quarters, would you not do mostly stabbing motions in that situation instead, and why the goofy, multi-millionaire former Googledouche has brand-new-looking glasses. in fact, i was just beginning to think that, by failing to properly think through the implications of its starting premise, it had fallen into the same trap as 2009 mega-flop FlashForward, when Giancarlo Esposito (the fabulous Gus from the fabulous Breaking Bad) showed up. that, on its own, has bought it another episode.

Last Resort: submarine, blaa blaa, Pakistan, missile strike, blaa, defying orders, fired on by own team, blaa blaa, T-1000 is an angry one, backup communication network, NATO early-warning station reminiscent of the control room from Jurassic Park on a remote island (always with the remote islands), local gangsters, blaa blaa, Washington, now shit’s got serious. etc. the pilot previewed weeks ago and i’ve been left with little inclination to seek out further episodes. [abc, Thursdays, 8PM ET – or here]

Elementary: Jonny Lee Miller as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes living in Brooklyn with Lucy Liu’s Dr Joan Watson, what could be boring and or ridiculous about that? if it continues to be as bad as the pilot, i’m guessing that by episode 3, the only people watching will be Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ lawyers. i’m out. [CBS, Wednesdays, 10PM ET – or here]

Arrow: this is one of the few Fall shows that will be broadcast in the UK this year, with Sky One having picked it up and due to put it out a month or so behind The CW from late Oct. it’s a teen-drama version of DC’s Green Arrow very much in the mould of Smallville, and i imagine it will strike the right sort of chords among its target demographic. i found the pilot pretty meh, but it’s very clearly not meant for me. [The CW, Wednesdays, 8PM ET]

Go On: despite Friends and several terrible movies, i actually really like Matthew Perry and, as you know, thought his work in Studio 60 (his last significant TV role) was excellent. here he plays a widowed sportscaster who’s undertaking counselling. i’ve long thought that group therapy scenarios are ripe fodder for comedy, which is one of the reasons why, along with two friends, i’ve been working on a screenplay for a sitcom which is set in just such a context. who knows if we’ll ever actually produce anything polished, let alone do anything with it, but the constant risk, however, is that in the time that we’re dealing with our creative blocks something else comes along and occupies a similar space – a 30 Rock to our Studio 60 if you will. happily, while i sort of like Go On, i’m fairly sure it’s not treading on our toes too much. [NBC, Tuesday, 9PM ET – or here]

• three real stinkers

Neighbors (abc): weak concept, poor acting, cheap gags. terrible.
Partners (CBS): no, guy who was in Numb3rs and The Newsroom, just no.
Ben and Kate (Fox): über-corny family sitcom. derivative and sloppily written.

#tirednewsflash: midsomer whites dream

the makers of ITVone’s suddenly controversial, but not in an exciting way, crime ‘drama’ Midsomer Murders have hit back at their critics by meating their challenge heads-on.

following a recent interview with the new look RadioTimez in which producer True Brian-May ill-advisedly let slip about the show’s theirtoofour secret “white’s only” casting policy, there has been increasing heat on the programme’s production team and the commissioning executives at ITV to reverse the shame-and-white faced practice.

initially, there appeared to be an initial disinclination to sway in time with the music of popular opinion – exemplified by the bruskly toned and somewhat confused interview Midsomer’s lighting engineer, D’shawn-Leroy Freeman, gave to the TLS yesterday. “if we”, he argued, “wanted browns, moslems or ladygays in it, we would have them, but we just don’t”.

in the early hours of this morning, however, an announcement was made that has rocked the world of dull detective drama to its very soul. in a statement issued (quite deliberately) at 4:44am, series chief Inspector Eamon Cleverly revealed that:

In the interests of a more progressive casting policy, a better future for all children and in immediate and total reversal of our former policy, we have decided that in the episode currently under production – which will air in seventy nine days – the murder (a gritty street stabbing) and the series of brutal muggings and drug-related burglaries that lead up thereto, will be committed by a hooded, but undeniably black, character.

We hope that this move will once and for all end the rumours that Midsomer Murders or its production staff harbours racist prejudices or upholds any racial stereotypes.

In a skilfully crafted piece of plot development, of which we are very proud, a young man, who goes only by the name ‘Blap’, will arrive in Midsomer from one of Britain’s larger urban settlements in order to visit his aunt, Glenys Blap – a Midsomer resident since series 4. It is our hope and belief that this momentous episode will be one of the most dramatic and baffling yet.

while we admit that we have been, in the past, a little reluctant to bring the realities of modern Britain’s ethnic regions to our sleepy corner or middle-bit of the country, now that we’ve forged a new identity, we are very excited about the new possibilities that now lie ahead for the programme.

in addition to this dramatic and revolutionary token, ITV bosses have announced that a new honorary production assistant will be joining the Midsomer team, who despite not being black/moslem herself, is a girl and has apparently watched Bend It Like Beckham twice and most of The Wire.

#telosvision: friday night dinner

Friday Night Dinner has put the proverbial cat among the pigeons of my knowing what to think about things.

as the experts – Bill Oddie, Chwis Packham, Leona Lewis, Jonathan Dimbledor etc. – will tell you, unlike their real counterparts, proverbial cats are no match for pigeons, and, soon after being put among them, die from an excess of peck wounds.

the problem is that it is a new Channel 4th sitcom (or ‘sit-down comedy’, for long) written by Robert Popper and starring, among others, Mark Heap and Simon Bird. now, while that might not sound like a problem, but merely a description, it is a problem for reasons that are as follows:

Robert Popper and Mark Heap are in my eyes like some kinds of geniuses.

Popper ran Channel 4’s Comedy Lab, was, along with Peter Serafinowicz, responsible for Look Around You – one of my favourite ever comedy series – and has also produced, edited and written for hilarious things like Peep Show, South Park, The IT Crowd, Spaced and Black Books.

Mark Heap is one of my favourite comedy actors, who brought life to brilliant characters in Spaced, Green Wing, Skins and The Great Outdoors, as well as doing top-notch sketch and bit-part work in (the amazing) Big Train, Look Around You, Brass Eye, Jam and Miranda. weirdly, he was also in Lark Rise To Candleford.

still, though, you might be thinking, there doesn’t yet seem to be any sign of that problem that you clearly mentioned earlier. well, the problem is Simon Bird.

i can’t nobbing stand Simon Bird. i think it’s mainly his stupid, grinning face. but it’s also his ridiculous affected posh-nerd voice and his utterly annoying wanna-be clichéd-geek shtick. he’s really annoyed me in every role i’ve seen him in and also in the several interviews/appearances as himself that i’ve caught. in particular (as i’ve mentioned here before), and (disappointingly) to many people’s apparent surprise/disgust, i HATE The Inbetweeners. i hate it, i hate it. i know most of you disagree, but i think that (despite having some top people involved) it’s really poor.

the uncomplicated conceit of FND involves two twenty-something Jewish sons (straight away it’s a step in the right direction to see Bird’s playing someone who isn’t supposed to be 16) who go back to their parents’ house each Friday for tea. presumably to comic effect. like a Jewish cross between Butterflies and Open All Hours, without the shop or butterflies, and more Friday based.

so, there we go – Friday Night Dinner: will it be brilliant, or will it be too Birdish to bear? well, i’ll be watching with badger-bated breath, expectant, but also plagued by the knowledge that, at any minute, he might make me have a stroke out of annoyance.

> Friday Night Dinner starts Friday 25th Feb at 10pm on Channel 4

#showertune: ‘ophis le serpentaire’ by vincent geminiani

remember nostalgia?

boring, wasn’t it (like this overlong post)

given that i’ve come to the end of the project that had been keeping me from reflecting too much on the future, how old i was getting, or the fact that life was steadily moving on and becoming serious without me being ready, at the moment i’m coping with the terror of these realisations by means of romantic remembering.

as i’m sure you all know, nostalgia literally means home sickness [from the greek νόστος (homecoming) and ἂλγος (pain)], and was originally coined in the 17th century to describe what was thought to be a serious medical condition. the condition was also referred to as mal du pais or mal du Swisse, due to its apparent prevalence among Swiss mercenaries who (emotionally and physically) pined for their Alpine homes whilst fighting on the various lowlands of what are now Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

isn’t it interesting that as well as the fact that homesickness is no longer thought of as either serious or ‘medical’ (except perhaps in extreme cases, where it probably be counted as a symptom of wider mental illness), nostalgia has come to mean a wistful remembrance of/longing for the past? what was about place, has become about time.

despite the fact that my studies and understanding of history have (i hope) been usefully guided by the notion expressed in the famous opening line of The Go-Between by
L. P. Hartley – “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there” – and that both ancient experience and modern physics point to intimate connections between time and space, i think something valuable might have been lost in the transition expressed by the shift in the colloquial meaning of nostalgia.

however globalised the world becomes, however easy travel and communication become, i don’t think, as humans, we can have story without also locatedness. as such, i feel it is not only necessary to talk about how great all the 60s/70s TV programmes that i used to love as a kid were (for it is these that have recently exercised my nostalgic juices), but also to speak about Edie and her house.

Edie was my next door neighbour growing up. She was a short, brash, thick-black-frame-spectacled, late-sexegenarian cockney, ensconced in our small, remote corner of West Cornwall. given her passion for London, she should have been more out of place, but she embraced the difference like a fish not only out of water, but sunbathing.

the porch that had been added onto the front of Edie’s otherwise-identical-to-ours house was filled with Mills and Boon books, piled high flat on their sides. she called everyone ‘babe’. before I was deemed old enough to have a house key, when my mum was at work, i used to go round to Edie’s after school. we didn’t talk that much, but when we did, i practiced charming her in the way i liked to do with adults.

her lounge was dominated by a thick, white-tassled rug which carried on its back a gilt-legged, glass-topped table with a scalloped edge. she sat in a high-backed green armchair, positioned so that it shielded the wooden TV cabinet from the afternoon sun. i sat to her left on the rug and placed my orange squash on the table, matching the fluting around the bottom of its glass tumbler to the curves that ran the table round. always.

we used to watch Countdown and 15 to 1 together, and then she’d put on children’s programmes for me and retire to the kitchen table to drink tea and smoke. despite the fact that it killed her Tom, smoking was Edie’s favourite hobby. that and cards. and erotic novels. sometimes we’d play cards – she taught me stud and draw poker, brag, cribbage, rummy, whist and even bridge and newmarket. some of the games we played properly, some of them she just explained to me because you can’t play them with two.

mum would usually get back mid-Blue Peter, but on some days she’d be late. at home, the once firm no-TV-during-meals rule had been relaxed in about 1990. the downside was that mum insisted on always watching Neighbours, then The Six O’Clock News, then Spotlight (shonky local news). as such, i liked the days when she was late – Edie didn’t care for the news and let me watch Thunderbirds while she smoked.

very occasionally mum would call Edie to say she was going to be unusually late, and ask whether she could make my tea. it was during one such occasion that it was suggested that at 6:30 we watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on BBC 2. i didn’t know what it was and had never ventured to watch it at home, but was immediately transfixed. Edie told me that she’d watched it when she first got a TV in the 60s, and that she liked the dark-haired one (Napoleon Solo played by Robert Vaughan). Edie was never really one for too many details – surprising, given the books she read.

once i’d been given reason, and courage, to watch one old programme that i didn’t know, i started to watch more, and it turned out that there was lots of 60s/70s TV that i loved: Mission Impossible, The Avengers, Ironside, The Prisoner, The Saint, Hawaii 5-0The Invisible Man, Batman, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, the list goes on and on. soon enough, i was videoing these programmes and watching them the next day instead of the kid’s crap.

when i was 11, my mum gave me a key so that i could let myself in when i got home from big school. i was pleased for the flexibility – i could get out of my uniform straight away for one thing – but i missed going round to Edie’s. sometimes i’d go anyway. that was fine with her.

one of the things i now realise about the TV programmes that i discovered because of Edie was that almost all of them contained the kind of music that i now love: Lalo Schiffrin, Quincy Jones, Morton Stevens, Jerry Goldsmith, Walter Scharf, Henry Mancini, Alan Moorhouse, Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Parker (all the Alans), Ron Grainer and many more gave these shows their edge by means of jangling brass, running baselines and rasping drums, often all at the command of deliciously strange time-signatures.

today’s #showertune doesn’t come from any of the programmes above, or any at all as far as i know, but it is beautifully evocative of precisely the right mood and sounds to me like bits of all their soundtracks blitzed in a blender and served over french ice.

as such, it’s dedicated to Edie Collins, who eventually moved back to the South East and is now probably dead.

it’s Orphis Le Serpentaire by Vincent Geminiani

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#inspiringquotations: number eight

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“You’d better bloodywell not be recording this. I might be hammered, but I can still kick your lights off”

>Mary Whitehouse

#showertune: ‘give me your love’ by the sisters love

Monday’s child is fair of face

so, if you were born today, congratulations, you can feed, sleep and cry safe in the knowledge that you most likely have a easier life ahead of you than the rest of us, and that even if you are properly, properly stupid, you will be able to find work, if nowhere else, in TV, presenting for Pricedrop.tv, QuizCall or ITV1.

speaking of which, wasn’t it great to see that couple captured by pirates and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi both go free? it made me feel good to be alive. a feeling which was washed thoroughly away shortly after when i foolishly broke my ‘never in this (pent)house’ rule and tuned in to watch Take That perform on The X Factor. here at RQT we’d all like to say a big “nob off Robbie, they were better without you”.

anyway, ever had a really bossy and insecure partner who is constantly demanding affection? well, today’s #showertune is a bit like what that might sound like – it’s Give Me Your Love by The Sisters Love

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#showertune: ‘e-pro’ by beck

happy day

so, one of the questions that has long puzzled humankind has finally been answered.

apparently, the death of Jack Duckworth – historically reenacted on last night’s Coronation Street – proves that not only is there an afterlife, but that the method by which humans are carried there is the good old omnibus.

that will please Americans, many of whom seem to think that going on the ‘bus is torture. apparently George Bush’s lawyer reckons it isn’t, but then, the CIA did once manage to foil a terror attack on Washington by threatening to force some captured terrorists to ride the afternoon cross-town.

today’s #showertune is a song that, like life, ends suddenly.

it’s E-Pro by Beck

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#tirednewsflash: no news is good news

hello. and our top story today: __________

the BBC Director Major-General Mark Thompson thinks that, given the currants economic, you, the public, will have little to less sympathy for those BBC employees who plan to take part in the 48 hour NUJ strikeout today and tomorrow, which will leave the BBC news provision across both TV and radio in a precariously positioned place.

when we put that question to former NUJ spokesman Andrew St Fleetst, earlier, he has this to say: “Well he would say that wouldn’t he, Thompson?”

the initialled reports were that several BBC News faces/voices like Fiona Bruise, Kirsty Walk and Knicky Campbell would all partache in The Event by simply not turning up. “Luckily”, claimed a sauce from within the BBC’s TV news production team, “part of it is scheduled for a Saturday and people are used to the good ones being off at the weekend and it being the troll-like ones that usually only do the BBC News Channel, so we think most people won’t notice. The radio team has it easy – they’re just getting in (Jon) Culshaw to do all (the voices) for both (days).”

however, we now understand that will not be the case, and that all BBC News staff will be instead performing what is known in the trade as a no-newser. as action organiser, watercolourist and former anchor Nicholas Witchell explained to non-BBC reporters this morning, “they will all go in and it will be like normal, but they’ll say that there’s no news and will be mostly silent. it’s like a vigil. and, legally, all the presenters will have to be paid.”

it is of course not the first time BBC News staff have pulled a no-newser over pay/pension restructuring – just incase you were out of town the last time, here is some footage of 2008’s infamous ‘no news tuesday’.

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well, given that we ourselves are entrenched in ongoing and sadly quite violent contract negotiations here at RQT (hence no #showertunes this weekend), we’re fully supporting all those who choose to join the strike, and roundly booing those who choose to use the opportunity to forward their careers by gleefully agreeing to swap the stacking chairs of South Yorkshire Tonight for the ‘full gas-action’ rotating thrones of the main BBC News desk.

shame on them.

#showertune: ‘electric feel’ by MGMT

bon jovi

and how, as only Americans would ask, are we today? sadly, it seems that everybody’s favourite country, Yemen, is suddenly in the naughty corner. apparently there is one or maybe two inconveniently anti-Western people living at 15, Yemen Road, Yemen who have bomb making equipment which is undetectable to any form of scanner, and who want to use it to kill the president.

luckily, when they tried to do Justin That the other day, at the last moment the plane that the bomb was on disappeared from metres above The White House and reappeared seconds later at East Midlands Airport near Leicester. no-one knows how it got there, and frankly, given the fairly bad acting from everyone except the limping lesbian from ER, few people care. impersonally, i blame illegal aliens (and also metaphors with the sneaking subtlety of dyspraxic flamingoes in tap shoes).

i don’t know about you, but i’d say a war is in order. and, whatismore, speculation on that very subject has lead to perhaps the best lines of journalism ever written, which can be found on today’s addition of the Guardian online. and i quote

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“In Washington, the US government was considering whether to grant the CIA far greater powers to select targets in Yemen for assassination by missiles fired from unmanned drones, despite mounting hostility in the country to such air strikes.”

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just perfect.

besides the facts that their plot failed and they’ve probably given a country that loves few things more than wars – and is currently involved in a couple of boring, stalematey ones – a reason to make a new one on them, the news gets worse for the Yemeni scamps, as James of the Hewlett Packard customer support line confirmed to me this morning that putting a bomb inside any HP printer most likely invalidates the warranty.

here, have a #showertune: Electric Feel by MGMT

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#showertune: ‘dirge’ by death in vegas

good mourning

well done. you made it through the vile veil of evil and live (either that or you’re reading this as a ghost, zombie, vampire or other type of unquiet or undead thing). either way, welcome to mondaynity.

i don’t know about you, but here are my results: 143 houses, 112 treats, 57 tricks (note: as always, some got tricks even though they gave out treats because the treats were crap, or the people looked, smelled or seemed annoying). far fewer tricks needed to be done than last week – hallowe’en always brings a year-high spike to the graph of treats i find – which is good, because smashing windows is tiring, petrol and lighters are very expensive and trapping pets in bins is politically sensitive.

i was already in a bad mood because, for Hallowmorn, The Dr and i went to a preview screening of Let Me In, the boringly titled new American remake of the brilliant Swedish vampire film Let The Right One In. i can’t say it was a disappointment, because I wasn’t expecting much, but it was depressingly, predictably mediocre. basically everything they changed was for the worse. i’ll write up a proper review soon, but for heaven’s sake just see the original.

so, what with that, and several references in various media to “Halloween night” (see what happens when we forget about apostrophes?), i almost didn’t bother to dress up as Frank from Blue Velvet and head over to the posh end of town.

in the end i talked myself into it. however, thinking ahead, i went out nice and early so i was only competing with the small kids and i could get home to watch the whole slew of crunchy, gloopy horror films that would surely be on in the evening to cheer me up. it turned out that someone at freeview had forgotten to schedule any, except for Halloween, which was on BBC 4 at 11:35, and Halloween 5, which was on BBC 2 at 1:55, meaning that if you are a vampire and weren’t planning on getting up till dusk today, then you could watch one good and one really lame film, with an hour’s break in between to do your nails. if like me, however, you are not such, you were basically stuck with James May’s Man Lab.

other than hair like a grey spaniel and horrible shirts, the key to being a man is apparently that we all like really crapply made things moulded out of concrete, and train sets. it was so depressing to watch him padding around onscreen describing colanders as ‘leftwing’ and seemingly believing that he’s not just a massive stereotype. it was practical though, given that he taught a gawping idiot how not to charm a woman, and then spent ages showing us all how to defuse a bomb – which noone in their right mind would ever attempt for real, and which, even though he had the required self-tapping needle, he ballsed up. and, after all that, when it finally went off, he wasn’t even slightly maimed or lacerated. by this point, the joy i’d got from all the pensioners i’d alarmed earlier was wearing right off.

luckily, the Psychoville special made everything better. if you missed it, you should get all over iPlayer. me likey.

today’s festive #showertune is Dirge by Death In Vegas

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#showertune: ‘beat me till i’m blue’ by the mohawks

yes? what?

i was put into a rage this morning by an idiot from off TV. The Dr insisted on putting on that one about getting a job, over breakfast, and one of the group of unbelievably stupid and annoying people thereon is a woman who apparently thinks that ‘manoeuvrement’ and ‘professionality’ are words. she was fired, but, according to her, the universe will avenge her death.

‘if the universe is on the side of such people, then all hope is lost’, i mused as i crunched my cornflakes.

speaking of pain, on, erm, recommendation from Dave Cameron, Nick Clegg recently made today’s #showertune the official song of the Lib Dem cabinet.

it’s Beat Me Till I’m Blue by The Mohawks

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#showertune: ‘brain’ by N*E*R*D

congratulations, and welcome to the week beginning today

“The problem with Feminism” Bono once observed “is that is has made clever women less attractive”. whether or not the South African-born quiz show host and international backgammon champion is not just a chauvinist or not, is, in both senses, moot. what could be true, however, is that of the people we see regularly on television, it is easier to think of men who are intelligent, articulate and engaging than women (who are).

where i you ask are the female Stephens Fry, Jons Snow, Jeremys Paxman and Davids Attenborough? Jnn Bnd? urrrrmmmm, she can’t say vowels. Fiona Bruce? well, perhaps. Kirsty Wark? ok. Clare Balding? look, stop ruining my point. one aspect of the Sue Barker? seems to be that we are far more open to men growing ‘wiser’ on our screens than we are women. once women get to a ‘certain age’ they disappear to Radio or Hades to be replaced by younger, glossier, often hollower specimens. of course, while age commands some sense of gravitas and experience can make you wise, being older can’t simply summon cleverness that was not previously there. it’s not just about the lack of older women in the media that effects all this, it’s also the apparent barrier to women who done got some smarts in they heads.

it wasn’t always like that though. when i was young, TV seemed stocked with middle-aged women who carried themselves with an air of seriousness and commanded at least some sense of intellectual authority: Judith Hann, Esther Rantzen, (how much wood could) Lynn Faulds Wood (fold, etc.), Valerie Singleton, Maggie Philbin, Angela Rippon, Sue Lawley, Judith Chalmers. i’m not saying these people were geniuses, but if Judith Hann explained something on Tomorrow’s World, it stayed splained. then, things all went a bit Philippa Forrester, Michaela Strachan and Tess Daly.

female presenters got younger and more attractive, but also fulfilled different roles that ranged from the ‘make it light-hearted, accessible and simple’, through to the ‘we just need you to be a clueless smile-pony’. it wasn’t important for these ones to be authoritative, even in science or current affairs programming, that aspect could be added elsewhere, by men in serious glasses. then the wind changed and it stayed that way.

whereas for a while a space had opened up for women to be more than just the ones in that hold the giant cards on Play Your Cards Right, it seemed to some extent to close up again. of course, it’s no where near as blatantly sexist as it used to be, but the dominance of the aesthetic over the intellectual does seem to prevail when it comes to women on TV.

if, however, you are both clever and attractive, then you probably can get in: Carol Vorderman played the role of ‘thinking man’s crumpet’ on TV for many years before recently having to be decommissioned and responsibly recycled into plastic cups and water bottles. now it seems her mantle has been grasped by Victoria Coren. however, as the looks begin to fade, it seems that as a woman in TV you will need to either inject yourself with every chemical known to humankind (Anne ‘the Ronsealed robot’ Robinson), and/or just slip away and die, please (Arlene Phillips).

today’s #showertune, by the way, is Brain by N*E*R*D

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#telosvision: the good, the bad and the ok

greetings

in the month that we took off to do secret important things, the calendar changed from ‘summer’ to ‘autumn’ which can only mean two things: 1) slippery leaves, bonfires, conkers, mists and mellow fruitfulness and 2) there is a whole new lineup of TV to enjoy.

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before we get stuck into the meat and two veg of the new ones, i thought i’d do a small round up of what i’ve been watching over the last few months, just so that we’re all on the same page:

Louie: the first season of Louis CK’s new sitcom premiered on American FX over the summer and it went down a treat in the penthouse. despite a couple of fairly unwelcome up-pops from Ricky Gervais – who once again proved his immense range by playing a tactless, annoying, English nob-end – here at RQT we reckon it was something of a triumph. look out for it on DVD fo’ shizzle. the good

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This Is England ’86: this has already had a mention, but i thought i’d put it in here anyway. like two Crunch Corners it was rough in some places and sweet in others, but overall truly a treat in four parts. the good

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Sherlock: Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s twenty-first centuried mini-series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman was something of a mixed bag. given the hype and the liberally apportioned praise that it received, i was left a little underwhelmed. the main problem with it was the fact that it couldn’t be both realistic and set in a world where Sherlock Holmes never existed and his literary legacy never changed the shape of the public imagination. you just can’t do modern investigative fiction without the legacy of Holmes and Watson. from where i was sitting it was fine, but ultimately a bit meh. the ok

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Entourage: despite being only ten episodes, season 7 was a welcome return to form for the guys and gals of LA town. why they’re only making six episodes for the next season i’ve no idea. we got cameos from Nick Cassavetes, John Stamos, Jessica Simpson, Queen Latifah, Stan Lee, Mike Tyson, Aaron Sorkin, Randall Wallace, Bob Saget, Mark Cuban, Christina Aguilera and Eminem, as well as season long performances from Sasha Grey and, most excitingly, the insanely attractive Dania Ramirez. A sad tone to the season overall. lots of destruction, but hints that things may come right for Drama and Turtle, if not for Ari and Vince. E was as boring as ever. the good

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Treme: i enjoyed Generation Kill, but wasn’t blown away by it, so i wasn’t sure what i was going to make of this new offering from David Simon. i’m glad to say, however, that it was in every way as good as i would hope a series about the music, culture, death and rebirth of New Orleans would be. the deep spirit of NOLA was alive and well in the fabric of every episode and the script, acting and music were just superb. it’s too early to watch it again yet, but hopefully soon it won’t be, so that i can. if The Wire is about power, fear and greed then Treme is about hope. if you didn’t catch it on HBO, find it and watch it asap. the good

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so … now we’re up to speed, let’s have a think about some of the newer stuff that’s around:

House: so, they finally did it. and now it’s all about the boring making it work stuff. after the dramatic end to season 6, the run-of-the-mill-ness of season 7 is something of a comedown, but at least we have a new title sequence. i like House, but i honestly don’t think this season is going to grip me – i’ll be dipping in and out. the good

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Boardwalk Empire: one of HBO’s new season big hitters comes courtesy of Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg and sees Steve ‘Shut the fuck up Donny’ Buscemi, Michael ‘I just look like a young Leo DiCaprio’ Pitt and Kelly Macdonald, among others, inhabit the murky, but sharply dressed world of Prohibition era Atlantic City. while i’ve not yet been blown away, i think it might have some legs. the good

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The Whole Truth: while it’s great to see the lovely Maura Tierney back on the tellybox after having successfully battled with breast cancer, i fear that ABC’s new courtroom drama is probably not going to end up making it into her ‘keepers’ box. it pits Tierney’s prosecution attorney against a defence lawyer played by the cop/normally-smart brother from Numb3rs in a ‘the way we want to beat each other in court reflects our obvious attraction for each other’ style cliche fest. however, the worst thing by far about the first episode was the way that it couldn’t resist using the last 5 seconds to remove all doubt about whether the convicted teacher really did kill his student and then carve chinese symbols on her dead body with a crucifix. why can’t the American public deal with even an ounce of ambiguity? the bad

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Spooks: yeah, the world’s most overworked intelligence officers are back. Ros is still dead, so a new woman has joined the team in the usual no interview, no questions asked kind of way. she looks like Kathy who used to be on EastEnders. Lucas is really called John, apparently, although we don’t yet know why. Harry just won’t have that inevitable heart attack, even after Ruth spurned his advances at Ros’s funeral. funerals eh, they give me the horn too. I guess that time when her husband got all shot is still playing on her mind. i still miss Malcolm, the new geek is terrible. the good

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Mad Men: some people are beginning to murmur that they don’t like season 4. i do like it. it’s fun to see everyone’s lives fall apart. Roger is a cockend and deserves to be hated. he will likely die soon leaving his annoying wife-doll to sling her stupid hook. the new Peggy is nicely spunky and it’s good to see Don’s veneer starting to crack. i still don’t like the new offices though, and i miss Sal. the good

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Pointless: yes, they made a new series of the dr’s and my favourite afternoon quiz show, and we are straight back in the groove of TiVoing it and watching it at teatime. Alexander Armstrong is a really good host and the banter between him and the answers-man Richard is verging towards classic. the fact that they zhooshed the format and changed the way several of the rounds work has detracted a bit from the pure experience of the first series, but we still like it. things do, however, get depressing when they have really stupid people on – so far in the new series there have been people who’ve thought that Hampshire, Orlando, Newcastle and Mexico were all US States. a preponderance of really camp men on this series too (obviously not a judgement, just an observation). the good

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Genius: another programme that’s had its format all messed around. the new way of doing things is frankly crapola. the whole point of genius was that it took itself too seriously, but now it’s like it’s trying to be too ironic about how it used to be so serious. this new approach pretty much makes everything a joke and is basically dull. the bad

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The Rob Brydon Show: “i can do impressions of Ronnie Corbett and Tom Jones – would you like to hear them?” we’re just all going to have to get used to that and that’s that. i basically like Rob, but he can be a bit samey. with good guests he’ll be fine though. to be honest, i’m surprised he has any time to film it the amount of adverts he does the voice for. already better than fawning, overpaid, boring, comic loving Wossy. Four Poofs and A Piano are missed though. the ok

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The Inbetweeners: why do people like this? i watched the first two episodes when it started and thought it was proper bollocks and that it would disappear gracefully, but instead it’s not, and now everyone seems to think they need to pretend to like it. i actually began thinking that maybe i was the one who was wrong, so i watched another two episodes of the new series. i am not wrong. it’s terrible. for a start, these are clearly 27 year old men pretending to be at school with zero apparent irony – it’s The History Boys all over again. then there’s the main one’s stupid grinning, squinting face and sniffy, posh voice. arrrrrggh, he’s so awful, i hate him. then there’s all the really bad jokes. in the four episodes i’ve watched, i haven’t even smiled, let alone laughed – not even once. the bad

#blogjammin: rev raises roof

[from Sunday]

given the (entirely appropriate) way that the eucharist always clears out the Sunday morning schedule across the board – and this year’s seemed to be passionately embraced as a return to solid GBness, rizla cannons and all – and the fact that tonight was always entirely bound to be Beverley (K)Night, with the UK soul legend bringing a huge and lingering smile to mainstage’s face, it is perhaps surprising that the day really belonged to comedy.

although when you consider that Milton Jones was both performing to Centaur, and then later being interviewed, and that James Wood, the writer of the BBC’s excellent ecclesiastical comedy Rev, was booked to be conversing about the show, then perhaps it’s not so surprising.

however, as throughout the day excited whispers began to give rise to rumours, anticipation began to seep from all quarters. in the end, of course, the gossip was true, and not only did Rev’s brilliant lead actor (and star of In The Loop and Pirates of the Caribbean among other things) Tom Hollander join Wood for the amazing Big Top Q & A session, but it emerged that the whole Rev team were on site filming some footage which will hopefully (surely?!) appear at some point as part of a second series.

“My brother”, quipped Milton Jones, “is currently recovering from massive head injuries. Well, when you have a massive head, you tend to pick up injuries.” rarely are his jokes longer than that, but then rarely do they not raise at least a chuckle, if not something more energy-sapping. one after another he fires them at the audience, and, like a cluster of obese 18th century giants huddled round the end of a blunderbuss, eventually you will get hurt, bad. it’s a barrage of comedy which never lingers, never waits but just keeps on coming.

“Perhaps, to promote animal rights, horses should throw themselves in front of Suffragettes … I hear one of the Sugababes has quit – diabetes apparently … For a recent birthday my family were so kind, they all clubbed together and got me some expensive vouchers, for a clinic in Switzerland.”

later, in the Big Top, Jones reflected on various aspects of his experiences of working in comedy, his favourite fellow performers and Cheggersgate – as noone called it. the queue was such that if you got in, you were very fortunate and if you didn’t, you’ll no-doubt be keen to read a close account of what was said from bloggers who did.

extracting humour from the everyday struggles of Adam Smallbone, a conscientious inner-city London priest, Rev recently graced the screens of people who had them pointed towards BBC2 on Monday nights at around 10pm. its mix of gentle but heartwarming humour, touching sentiment and a refreshingly honest grounding in accurate research, has endeared itself to many, even causing the Guardian to write nice things about something vaguely religious. certainly it was a big hit in the penthouse and, given the staggering queues outside the Big Top and overwhelmingly appreciative atmosphere evaporating off the crowd of punters within like so much love steam, i’d say we weren’t alone.

following a VT medley of highlights from the show, James and Tom, as i feel i can now address them, strode onto stage to rapturous applause. they graciously answered well chosen questions for around an hour and seemed genuinely touched by the obvious affection in the room for the show, them and the character of Colin as well as intrigued by the antipathy for Darren, the evo-vic who hijacked Adam’s church in episode 2.

“Yes we went there, and I actually really liked it”, was how Wood replied to several of the audience’s suggestion that Darren’s outfit might have been based on a certain wealthy and well attended London evangelical church. “In fact, I felt so good there, I stayed for the next service, I went round again. The attractive women were so friendly.”

answering, with good humour and grace, questions which probed their inspirations, their consultation with real-life priests, the response they’ve received and even how making the series has impacted their spiritual lives (which is about as close to an altar-call as GB could muster or would want), they came across as lovely human beings.

it was a truly classic greenbelt_ moment and i left in a fantastic mood and no doubt that the reason the programme has left such a big impression on the GB faithful is down not just to the way they valued and approached the research that was put in, but because of the reality and honesty of these people’s perspectives on faith in general, and their own religious experiences.

#vidiotic: sans everything

it has come to my attention that there are some people, friends of mine even, who remain unaware of Fist Of Fun featuring the man once voted 41st best stand up ever Stuart Lee and Richard ‘i just want to get back on the telly’ Herring alongside the actor Kevin Eldon, Peter Baynham and several other humans. how? why? or what on earth these ignoramuses did on Thursday nights in the spring of 1995, are all intriguingly beside the point, but their loss is not.

if you like laughter, then you should know about this show – seek what remains of it out. it ran for two serieses, or, for pedants, seri,, and was known at the time for, and is still described in terms of, its lack of preparation and generally poor production quality. although it got several tens of sheds worth of views, this was back in the day when TV had to be seen to be well made as well as popular, and someone decided this wasn’t. now we have Horne and Corden and Hole In The Wall.

here is a clip from the last episode of series 1, featuring the death of my favourite character the real Rod Hull (he is him). watch it closely – there will be a quest.

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#telosvision: most depressing gameshow ever?

just when i thought reality tv couldn’t get any worse, the race for the bottom has been reignited by Endemol and Channel 4’s latest ‘treat’ The Million Pound Drop….Live! no doubt simply filling a gap in the schedule which will soon be gobbled up (along with almost all other slots) by the new series of Big Brother, this Davina fronted reality quiz experience pits the non-existant wits of ‘people’, who can only be described as morons, against some questions, with the additional pressure garnered by the presence of £1m (this time a million pounds, not ‘a metre of money’) which they are forced wager on their lack of knowledge.

the ghoulishly simple concept is that a pair of quarter-wits are given a million pounds (but not really), told that they’re now millionaires (although not really) and told that they have a chance of staying that way at the end of the show (although not really). they must bet the money that they’ve been leant on eight multiple choice questions. they must wager all the money each time, but can spread it about amongst four possible answers (although one answer must always remain blank). any money wagered on incorrect answers ‘drops’ from the large pedestal stage that the game is conducted on and into the eager arms of fat men in suits with black shades – security guards apparently. as the game continues the available answers reduce to three, then for the final question, to two, meaning that the final wager is an ‘all-or-nothing’.

the first depressing thing about ‘The Million Pound Drop…Live! is the way in which the contestants are made to handle the money, bundled in £25K stacks, as they bet it. to absolutely guarantee that they look as much like the desperate, stupid paupers that they are, scrabbling around on the floor begging for all the money back that the banks and markets keep losing, they only have one minute to decide how much cash they want to risk on each answer and physically pile it on top of the appropriate trapdoor. we have yet to discover what happens if the time elapses and some of the wadges have not been placed, but we have seen plenty gleefully literal money grabbing.

the next most depressing element is added by the fact that as the game continues and the number of possible answers reduces, the questions become ‘harder’ (although this is a relative term) and the available options more difficult to choose between. the concept on which the show was advertised was that you become less sure of an answer you think you know to be right if someone actually gives you a whole stack of real money to risk on it…live! this, however, has turned out to be (at best) only an aspect of the early stages of the show when the stupid contestants are remotely within the Jeremy Beadle-esque grasp of their scanty faculties. in any case, as the eighth and final question looms, the nature of the question and the possible answers left to choose between mean that the role of knowledge is reduced to about that required to guess how many sweets are in the massive jar at the school fete (‘Which of the Cheeky Girls has the longer left big toe?’). as such, the format essentially means that if anyone with any form of general knowledge ever did get on, although they could potentially use their smarts to get all £1m through to the final question, they would be forced to gamble the fruits of their labour on essentially a coin toss in the last round.

clearly what we’ve ended up with is a gentrified version of the show Channel 4 wanted to make in which the best the contestants can possibly stand to do is have a 50% chance of keeping whatever pitiful amount of shiny coins their limited faculties have allowed them to scrape together whilst scratching around with their mouths, like the worthless poultry that they are, on the shitty floor of ‘Davina’s Cash Barn’ – a kind of Jimmy’s Farm meets the end bit of The Crystal Maze. in fact, why not just go out into ‘the worse kind’ of council estates and offer the people the chance to play Russian Roulette with three bullets in a six-shooter? at the start they stand to win all their hopes and dreams, but by the end it’s 50/50 whether they blow their brains out, or win a badge that reads ‘I’m poor, kick my face’.

last night’s instalment introduced Will and Gemma who were either stooges drafted in to steer the so-far dismal ship back on the intended course (i.e. to get some money through question 3 or 4) or they were the most depressing contestants yet. they started off well, knowing the answers to the first few questions and either managing to successfully risk all the cash, or lose only small amounts to entertaining last-minute fits of one-million-pounds-in-live-cash related doubt. they were clearly not what you’d call bright, but they seemed to know at least eleven things which is more than can be said for any other contestants i’ve seen ‘take the drop’ so far.

the episode hit an unbelievable low, however, when the subject for their fifth or sixth question was selected as Science and the following question was revealed: Which of these events occurred first – Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium, Fahrenheit invents the mercury thermometer or Isaac Newton formulates the three Laws of Motion? Will, the proud holder of an A* in GCSE Combined Science, was initially drawn to Isaac Newton but could not give the inquisitive Gemma a satisfactory reason as to why. after discussing whether the Laws of Motion were ‘when the apple fell on his head’, as if being able to confirm or deny that was all they needed to help them to alight on the answer, they put the majority of their money on Will’s Newtonian ‘hunch’, shifting something like ‘only’ £125K onto Fahrenheit as a backup. “I just don’t think radium’s been around for very long” was a treat of a comment from Gemma.

as if it weren’t enough that there was clearly tension in the room and on the faces of the contestants which should in no way have been there (million pounds or not) given that Fahrenheit was born only one year before Newton published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, to make matters worse, the Fahrenheit trap was dropped first (thus revealing it as an incorrect answer). so, now they knew that the answer was either Newton’s Laws (on which they’d bet around £900K) or the Curies’ discovery (on which they’d wagered nothing), and yet they didn’t seem any more confident. the ‘tension’ was cranked up ‘even more’ by the revelation that they would be cutting to an advert break before revealing the next drop. the fact that they didn’t know for sure which had occured first between an event from 1687 and another from 1898, or even who was around first, Newton or the Curies, was depressing, but the fact that the producers obviously thought that their ignorance would be shared by the majority of the show’s audience was quite sickening.

to my mind gameshows are supposed to be about the opportunity to turn knowledge or skill into rewards. the audience attraction is the giddy thrill of rooting for (or, in the case of some, (not mentioning any Judith Keppels) against) the contestants as they put themselves to the test. this programme is really about degradation. we’re presented with cash-strapped simpletons who’ve agreed to exchange their dignity for the chance to desperately fumble around with big blocks of money they are never going to win and in the meantime we’re supposed to enjoy the suspense of not knowing who was born more recently Cyrus the Great of Persia or Timmy Mallett.

on the show’s promotional youtube video, one of the production team asserts “it’s a massively life-changing thing to think about. Actually if i think about it too much, it makes me want to cry.”

me too.

#telosvision: sex and the city

i’d been preparing a #telosvision post about Sex and the City to coincide with the release of the forthcoming second film when the shocking revelation about the true and terrible nature of the show broke. i am as i imagine are you in a state of discombobulation the likes of which i’ve only before seen or felt in american department stores. of all the things that life could have taken from me, not this, please, not this. alas. this. i’m big enough to admit when i’ve been duped. damn you lars.

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/arts-&-entertainment/lars-von-trier-revealed-as-‘sex-and-the-city’-mastermind-201005102714/

#telosvision: archer – bond for feminists?

#telosvision: love it or just watch it anyway TV is arguably today’s central cultural medium and marker. in terms of shaping our shared experience and mediating the conscience collective televisual trends tends ends end en n and so on. you might say that charting the emerging geography of the small screen is like looking into a cultural crystal ball – and many experts do. so.

at RQT we’re beginning our critically engaged map of the box in a small corner called Archer. produced for Fox’s FX channel and premiering in january of this year the first season’s ten episodes open to us the hidden doors of ISIS (the International Secret Intelligence Service). located above a mid-town laundromat (“wash’n’fold…technically”) ISIS is a small intelligence agency sporting the most highly trained and most ninjaist operatives who are also a sorry bunch of total douche bags.

Douche-baggery not withstanding the collection of rag-tag incompetents soaks and sexual misfits that make up the ISIS staff are really as endearing a clutch of chumps as you will ever know (and you will know lots of chumps – i can guarantee that).

Code-named ‘Dutchess’, Sterling Malory Archer – son of former field agent and persistent sex-hound ISIS director Malory Archer and the Archer of Archer (the title) – is essentially your classic emotionally stunted gun-toting butler-needing lacrosse-playing rich mummy’s boy field agent. but more annoying than that. be careful though because like all ISIS agents he is highly skilled in Krav Maga – “Karate? Karate is the Dane Cook of martial arts”. his instincts are to be suave and wry but he’s much better at being crass and never being able to come up with witty retorts quickly enough. he’s essentially an obnoxious pig-headed misogynistic…wait i totally had something for this… Lana Kane […douche.] is a fast-talking tactical weapons expert with a short dress and breasts which stick out as much sidewards as they do frontwards. she is Archer’s field partner and never quite totally ex (they are named beneficiary on each other’s life insurance policies). she now goes out with Cyril Figgis from accounts who is a nervous and comparatively well-meaning bespectacled nerd and thus the butt of nearly all of Archer’s jokes. he has an extremely large penis and makes stir-fry for Lana every Friday (Cyril: “Guess what we call it…” Archer: “Stir Friday?” Cyril: “…Wow, that is…actually better”.) the admin side of things is handled by Cheryl/Carol/Cristal/Carina – who changes her name a lot and likes being strangled – and Pam who is fat and grew up on a ‘cheese farm’. Dr. Krieger is in charge of R&D and doesn’t really say much but what he does say is unremittingly dark (Pam: “And that’s the reason I never have sex with co-workers. That … and no one ever lets me.” Krieger: “I’ve had good results with ether”).

add in gay agent (gaygent) Gillette, Scatter-brain-Jane, (infil)trator Krenshaw/Kremensky, Archer’s long-suffering butler Woodhouse, KGB boss (Mallory’s on-off lover and probably Sterling’s father) Nicolai Jackov and Len Trexler the boss of rival agency ODIN (Archer: “Ugh, the Organisation of Douchebags in…wait I had something for this…..Nowheresville”) and another of Mallory’s former conquests, and you just about have the whole cast of characters.

Archer uses heavy doses of irony to transition all the social politics of the old-school spy genre into the world of equal opportunities legislation sexual harassment cases and diversity criteria. every character is almost equally as insecure shallow self-obsessed and sexually tragic as the next and very few social constructs or taboos escape the sharp edge of the writer (Adam Reed)’s pen. just like Reed’s work for Adult Swim – Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021 – Archer is parodic, sharp and laugh-out-loud-and-then-feel-ashamed funny. given that the first season has already won the plaudits of philosopher and wet-mouthed genius Slavoj Žižek, cultural critic, academic and celebrity hairstylist Cornel West, trance DJ and leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales Archbishop Vincent Nichols, feminist activist Ron Jeremy and not-long-enough-since-dead actor/lobbyist/fascist and bi-sexual icon Charlton Heston, it’s probably no surprised that a second season is currently on the drawing board.

UK viewers can see Archer on thursdays at 10pm on Fiver or thereafter on Demand Five. US viewers should hit up Hulu.

yyyyuuuuuuppp