Posts Tagged ‘ TV ’

#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.


#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.‘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.