Saturday, 30 June 2007

This Blog is More Informative Than the Radio Times

Another quick reminder for a show that's barely been advertised. A Doctor Who episode called The Infinite Quest will be airing BBC2 at 10.30am. It's completely animated and has been airing as 210-second cartoon bits on kiddy-show Totally Doctor Who for the past few weeks now. From what I've seen, it is a bit "for-the-kids". Then again, a lot of people who don't watch Doctor Who think it's a bit "for-the-kids" anyway.

It's 45 minutes long and I'm not actually sure whether it's canonical to the series. Animated David Tennant looks fun though.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Scrubs Up Nicely

Just so you know, the British premiere of the new sixth series of Scrubs airs at 9pm on E4 tonight. I thought I might as well let you know, as E4 have done bugger all to advertise it.

Scrubs is an odd comedy to watch. However, I always find myself only wanting to watch the first twenty minute of show. Why? It's because I know that in the final five minutes a lesson will be learnt, or a character will die, or J.D will finally see how an action he's done has made somebody miserable, or Elliot'll break up with whoever she's dating in this series. It's odd that a comedy set in a hospital can often include more drama than, say, a drama set in a hospital.

Everybody's talking at me

Earlier this week, I did something which some people might call a bit silly. I immigrated from the UK to the US, leaving just one week shy of the Doctor Who series finale. That irked me to no end, especially when you consider that if it hadn't been delayed by the bloody Eurovision Song Contest I would've seen the bloody finale three days before I flew out. Heigh ho.

I've not watched a lot of American television, but as I type this my Dad and Stepmom (who have very kindly put me up for the time being) are watching a television show called So You Think you Can Dance. It's largely a copy of American Idol, but with dancing instead of singing. There's the Obligatory British Judge, who bucks tradition by being the Friendly One. it's also hosted by Cat Deeley. What she's doing on American television I will never know, but then again she did used to co-present SMTV Live, so she's probably used to presenting shows aimed at people of that intellectual level.

it's at this point I realise that I've indirectly insulted my Dad and Stepmom. I should probably start looking for somewhere else to live.

I've been to America before, and I've watched some television. The biggest difference between American and British television is that American TV is broken up with more advertisements on a more regular basis. I wouldn't mind if the ads were vaguely intelligent, if they so much as alluded to some creative intuition on the part of the company hired to put the things together.

Imagine you're walking down a street. Now imagine that as you walk people are taking in turns to walk beside you and shout things at you. You find it difficult to focus on what they're actually trying to say, because they're so loud and the words they're saying don't necessarily make sense when placed in the order they're being used in. It's like they're trying to have a conversation with you, but without asking for any interaction whatsoever.

There don't appear to be any intelligent ads either, ads that make you laugh because they're clever, or make you smile because they're making you think. Ads over here are remarkably patronising, and are rather pointless. Despite this, you can now buy them on DVD at Best Buy. The mind boggles.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

My Name's Peter Jones, and My Idea is to Create a Highly Derivative TV Show That Nobody Wants to Watch

Today, ITV1 have announced that their Apprentice rip-off Tycoon, starring business guru Peter Jones, is being relegated from its hour-long Tuesday evening slot to one more befitting its dismal ratings, late on Monday nights and cut down to half the length. This will make watching Jones close down the contestants' failing ventures deliciously ironic. Also gone is the programme that follows it, Tough Gig, in which comedians are put into unfamiliar situations and forced to perform stand-up routines. The one I saw, with Dara Ó Briain doing comedy for a group of real-life Fantasy Role-Players, was excellent (what I saw of it anyway; the reception went for a bit owing to the Great Rains) which is highly unusual for a show on ITV. Probably they've only got rid of this one because they need a ninety-minute slot free to fit in their emergency A Touch of Frost repeats, which I like to imagine are kept in a red wall-mounted case behind glass in the scheduling department at ITV headquarters, with a sign reading In Case Of Viewing Figures Emergency, Strike Glass Hard With Hammer. That hammer's been getting a lot of use lately.

If you especially care, you can watch Tycoon online at

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Well, "Sam Tyler" IS an anagram of "Masterly"...

A transcript of this Saturday's Doctor Who finalé has leaked online. Apparently. Here it is for your reading pleasure:

[The earth is saved. The Doctor looks at the Master with pure hate. The Master weeps, defeated.]

You've done it again, Doctor. Just like all the other times.

Leave now. Leave this planet in peace.

But... I haven't got a TARDIS. And what's to stop me coming up with another evil plan?

Hmm... good point. Well, guess I'll just have to use this on you!

[The Doctor pulls out the Timelord-to-Humanifyer that kept showing up every other episode]


[Cut to: an unconcious Master in the TARDIS with the Doctor and Martha]

So, where are you going to take him? And how will you make sure he doesn't turn back?

Well, I thought I'd dump him in 1973. He'll think he's a cop or something. I'll give him a complicated backstory to explain his flashbacks from 2007. Let's say.. he was in a car accident and just woke up in 1973. And have him question whether he is mad, in a coma, or back in time.

That sounds ridiculous.

Well, that's how I want it to end anyway. The amount of people who think the Toclafene are actually alternate-universe Daleks is just silly. I mean, why would Russel T Davies bring back the Daleks just for the season finalé?


Monday, 25 June 2007

It's The Freakiest Show

This time last week, I'd never seen Life On Mars. Doctor Who represented the first time I'd ever seen John Simm travel backwards through time. Recently I have seen the first couple of episodes, and I remain fairly convinced that Doctor Who remains the only time I've seen John Simm travel backwards through time.

I've heard that the ending of Life On Mars was terribly ambiguous, but I've not seen that, and to be fair the start was wholly unambiguous. A man is hit very hard by a car, then he has a strange little vision, then he wakes up in a slightly wrong version of the past, hearing random snippets of hospital conversation, in a coincidentally very similar situation to what he was doing in 2006.

So what are the theories? Is he mad, in a coma, or back in time? Well, he's clearly in a coma. I mean, sure, I can't prove he's not actually travelled back in time, and the fact that there's a huge bridge missing isn't just artistic license, and the hospital snippets aren't just hallucinations, and the fact he landed in the past with an ID and a coherent backstory aren't just, er, whatever would explain landing in the past with a backstory. And I can't prove he isn't a genuine 1973 cop who just imagined his entire life from 1969 to 2006 (and again, the fact that there's a huge bridge missing isn't just artistic license, and the hospital snippets aren't just hallucinations). Or maybe he's in a coma and back in time somehow, although that still raises all the same questions about the bridge and his backstory. But really, which is more likely? (Hint: "in a coma" is necessarily more likely than "in a coma and back in time".)

I tell you, that Richard Dawkins would have a word or two to say about believing the back-in-time version.

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Cliffhanging Around

(The following article has spoilers for last night's Doctor Who episode. You really should have watched it by now.)

There's nothing that dramas love more than a nice cliffhanger. They do it because without them, what reason do the audience have in tuning into the next episode or series of the program? But when was the last time that the resolution of a cliffhanger was, well, any good?

Take 24 as an example. They like to end their seasons on a major plot twist that get veiwers tuning in when the show returns the following year. At the end of series two, we saw President David Palmer being affected by an assassination attempt by what I can only describe as Palm Poisoning. He collapsed on the ground, and all we could hear was his breathing failing and his heartbeat. Everybody tuned in to the next series to see his fate: but it's okay, because the next series took place three years later and he was up an about. That's alright then. This isn't the oly time something like this has happened in the show. One of the surprise twist endings involved Jack Bauer having to fake his own death to escape the Chinese government (which person hasn't had to do this once in a while?). However, tune in next series to find Jack in CTU running about in charge. Lovely. Good old Bauer.

Another show which has a problem resolving it's cliffhangers is Doctor Who. If it's the first episode of a two-parter, the final few seconds have to be tense. Sometimes, the Doctor can be stuck at the edge of the universe, surrounded by Slitheen or nearly attacked by Cybermen. It's tense and dramatic and makes us watch Part Two. However, why haven't we learnt that the resolution of the cliffhanger will be the same every time: the Sonic Screwdriver will sort it out. I watched Who last night to see how they'd escape the savage pointy-teeth future humans after the Master had escaped in the Doctor's TARDIS. I was hoping to find cunning and Moffat-esque writing. No. I see the time-travelling trio already arrive in the present. Bam. The sonic screwdriver has saved the day again.

Despite last night's episode being a bit funny in places and a reasonably enjoyable watch, I still say it was as bad as all the other Episode Twelves this show has had. Let's hope for a decent finalé.

Saturday, 23 June 2007

You See Through Fads And Your Crazy Phases, Yeah!

I was channel hopping a few days ago, when I happened across a show I'd never seen or heard of before, which upon later investigation turned out to be BBC2's Let Me Entertain You. I didn't know what was going on. Almost immediately, a pair of dancing magicians were introduced, and a small clock started counting in one corner, while another counter slowly increased from 0% in another. This puzzled me, so I kept watching. After a minute and a half, the right hand counter reached 50% and a sound instructed the dancing magicians to please clear off now, which they politely did. They had yet to perform any magic. Because I am more intelligent than a melon, I successfully inferred more or less the entire premise of the show from this. (For the record, I would like to ask what kind of mind goes to see a talent show and presses their "get 'em off" button within two seconds of an act starting. That seems more than slightly perverse to me.)

Now far be it for me to point out horrendous flaws in game show mechanics, but it seems to me that this programme is essentially little more than channel-hopping for the terminally lazy and suggestible.

After this, a singer came on and I turned over. Hence, by its own scoring system, Let Me Entertain You scored a little over three minutes and failed to win the £1000 prize. Oh, well. Can't win 'em all, eh?

Friday, 22 June 2007

America's Got Talent and Won't Give It Back

Apparently, America's got some sort of talent as well. Well, that's what they claim in the title of ITV2's latest import America's Got Talent (Friday, 8.30pm).

Much like it's British counterpart, people who believe they have a great talent go on stage in front of an audience and three judges. They then display the talent. The format couldn't be more simple. There are similarities between the two versions of the show as well; the three-X-and-you're-out rule, the mix of good talent and bad talent and the appearance of Piers Morgan. However, there are a lot of differences.

The prize is slightly altered. In Britain, the winner of the show got a nice £10,000 cash prize, as well as their talent being displayed on the Royal Variety Show; humble, but very British. In America, the prize fund has been increased to an astonishing One Million Dollars. Where do they get this kind of money from? In Britain, the contestants get to sit in a lovely waiting room, eagerly anticipating their name be called by either Ant or Dec. Or that Stephen bloke who used to to magic on CITV. In America, all the acts get to sit in with the audience, and their names are called out by Regis Philbin in a style ever so similar to The Price is Right. This way, they get to do a lot of cheering, hollering and gun-shooting. And at one point, threatening the judges with knives. It was that good of a show.

The judges were an odd mix. From right to left, we have journalist Piers Morgan, singer Brandy Norwood (who you'll probably remember from I Still Know What You Did Last Summer No? Me neither) and David Hasselhoff. After each round, the judging would fall into exactly the same structure of judging every single time. Piers would say that the act isn't good enough, Brandy would disagree and click her fingers, Hasselhoff would look around being confused and wondering what show he was on, and then the judges would all say "No" or "Yes". Except Brandy. She always said yes. When she didn't like an act, she'd convince Piers and David to say No, so then her vote wouldn't matter. What's wrong with the woman? Can't she say the word "No"? What a slut.

The American audience also seems slightly... deranged. They're a big fan of the standing ovation. They stood and cheered for a knife juggler. They stood and cheered for a magic act. They stood and they cheered as a 65-year old took his clothes off. What is wrong with the citizens of America?

Thanks to ITV2's brilliant ability to get American imports as fast as possible, I already know who the winner is. Mainly beause the show aired last year. It's this girl. When that site was given to me, I misread it and thought the winning act was "Brian Aryan". Despite it being brilliant that me thinking America let a white supremacist win a high-rating talent show, it was sadly not to be.

The One Where Underdog Gets Away

It's a very human thing to root for the underdog. That's why there are no films about a boxer who is expected to win, triumphing over no adversity, and coming out, as was presupposed, on top. I always wanted the kids on Knightmare to do well. Of course, they never did. They'd always get killed in a corridor of blades, or accidentally issue their interpid duneoneer clear and explicit instructions to walk off a nearby cliff. But the fact that almost nobody ever won that show (eight teams won it altogether) meant that every contestant was an underdog, and since (unlike, say, Fifteen To One, there was no requirement for any of the underdogs to win, it made you want them to do well. It made me want that, anyway. You may have just wanted it to go away. The same is true of the even more unwinnable Takeshi's Castle. You always want someone to win, but they never ever did. (I'm told exactly one person ever won Takeshi's Castle. I think they got a silver-plated chequebook and pen or something.)

So why can't I apply the same logic to The Crystal Maze? The contestants on that didn't win very often either, and there's no requirement there that anyone should, and yet invariably you sit there for an hour just hoping that they'll all get locked in before they reach the Dome and there'll be nobody there to gather tokens (and then in one case the screen would go black and it would tell you that the team captain had died since the show was filmed and you'd feel all guilty, unless like me you have no heart, in which case you might vaguely wonder if he died as a direct result of his apparent inability to complete simple tasks). My theory is that it is a survival mechanism.

The players on Takeshi's Castle and Knightmare didn't win much because those are genuinely difficult games. The contestants on The Crystal Maze didn't win much because they were a bunch of incompetent blundering buffoons. Yesterday I watched a woman with bad hair wire up a giant button to a giant battery and then stand around like a mute Dalek trying to work out what she had to do next, as if it was somehow not the most obvious thing in the world. I think that if you were rooting for them, you would get frustrated and tear out all your hair. Then you wouldn't get a date and wouldn't reproduce. This is an evolved survival mechanism.

If we wanted contestants on The Crystal Maze to win, we would die out. That is clearly scientific fact.

It's Richard Madeley Gone Mad

So, this week a new series of Richard and Judy's show, Richard & Judy, has started on Channel 4. (Yes, I'm at home in the daytime.) Now, Richard Madeley is an opinionated man. There's not many an issue that he doesn't havean ill-thought-out position on. Today he's successfully masking this by bringing on guests with even dafter views than him, but often he gets quite angry about the many injustices he percieves in the world around him; an interesting tack for a man who was happy in his programme to fleece his viewers in rip-off £1-a-go phone competitions up until the time they were shown to actually be fraudulently conducted.

In this new series, he has launched a war on "the twin nightmares of political correctness and 'elf and safety." Presumably, Madeley envisages a future utopia in which all mankind lives in harmony together, confined to their hospital beds following workplace accidents, hurling racist epithets across the wards. In any case, it's unclear at this early stage exactly what form this righteous crusade will take. But I would suppose it's safe to imagine that it will consist of a large amount of pointless sniping at individual stories about the crazy decisions of local councils, and very little in the way of constructive suggestions to in any way alleviate this terrible scourge beating its evil path across the nation, leaving only ruin and misery in its wake. Poltical correctness is very easy to poke fun at, but it seems a very stupid target for a full television assault, seeing as it's almost always harmless (his pet examples include a council who replaced a parkful of benches because they were three inches to high or too low or something, and an old school building where they leave the lights on at night so that trespassers don't injure themselves) and it at least springs from good impulses - who doesn't want everyone to be treated equally and for us all to get along?

Anyway, I suggest that we hereby start a War On Richard Madeley's War On Political Correctness. There'll be no objectives or structure to this campaign; it will consist solely of pointing and laughing at Richard Madeley. If you agree, well then there's no need to do anything. Just be sure to point and laugh at Richard Madeley.

The Doctor Faces His Deadliest Foe: Celebrity Cameos

First, let me apologise for using that "faces his deadliest foe" joke. It's been used before in newspapers when Doctor Who has been aired against ITV1 pantomimes, or when an episode is postponed because of football. The joke's been done to death. I couldn't think of a decent title for this entry though.

This Saturday marks the 12th episode of the newest series of Doctor Who. It left us on a tense cliffhanger last week, revealing the true identity of DI Sam Tyler, and left us waiting for more. But why aren't I excited? I'll tell you for nothing that I'm excited about Episode Thirteen, because the newest Doctor Who series has yet to have a poor series finalé. But that's not for another nine days. Before the final episode, we have to endure episode Twelve. But I hate the "episode twelves" of Doctor Who. Why?

Attack of the Celebrity Cameo.

It first arrived two years ago, as Christopher Eccleston, Mrs. Chris Evans and John "Would He Get As Much Work On TV If He Was Straight?" Barrowman were all stuck on Planet Endemol or whatever the crap it was. Oh, the amount of B-List celebrities that were hiding around every corner! Anne Robinson, Davina McCall, Trinny & Susannah.. they were everywhere! And it appeared to lack a plot; only to redeem itself five minutes before the end credits when it revealed that Daleks were circling the skies. Lovely.

Then last year's Episode Twelve was a similar reject. Ghosts were roaming the Earth! But so are cameos! Barbara Windsor? Derek Accorah? Trisha? Alistair Appleton? Not only this, but in a rehash of the previous Episode Twelve, we had Daleks flying about in the final few seconds.

I was hoping this new series would be different. I was hoping that, due to last week's amazing cliffhanger, that Episode Twelve of Series Three would be utterly fantastic, plot-driven and tense. But, what does the Radio Times tell me? Look at the cast list!

Sharon Osbourne! McFly! Ann Widdecombe!

I'm just hoping the bloody Daleks don't appear in the final couple of minutes. If they do, a new phrase will be coined. "Episode Twelve", meaning "of following the same plot structure and cramming celebrities in where we can". This can be used to describe all the newer episodes of The Simpsons.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Cricket Is Ridiculous

This post was originally two separate posts from my own website, which I have pasted together, modified slightly, and uploaded here. consequently, the next sentence you read may well be false:

As you may be aware (or may have guessed if you know me at all), I am not a fan of cricket. You have a huge field, with people, often with their faces painted up with sunscreen, sprinkled sparingly over it. Two of them have lumps of wood. A third throws a ball at some other wood, and one tries to hit it with his own wood. The others (who are bestowed with monikers such as “silly mid leg-wind”, or something like that) then try to catch it, while the two people with the wood are switching places over and over (sorry, no pun intended, although to be fair I didn't delete it when I reposted this, either).

You would think, with a description that long, that it would be exciting. After all, millions regularly watch “twenty-two people try to kick a leather ball through some scaffolding”. But you would be sorely mistaken. Cricket is quite impressively dull. It may be because nobody is ever in any great hurry, because they have a full working week to finish the game — often they’ll play for two days secure in the knowledge that they almost certainly can’t actually affect the result. And if they’re not finished by teatime, they call it a draw and go inside. You can tell the game was invented in England, can’t you?

But what really gets me about cricket is that they show all five tedious days on television. You could probably fit a decent film into the parts of the coverage where the cameras are showing people in the crowd, or interesting butterflies. I'm convinced you could show cricket on Teletext and it wouldn't lose anything much.

But the biggest mystery in cricket is the music. I watched some cricket today — and when I say “watched”, I really mean “read a book while it was on” — and they played Supergrass, Love Shack, Boom Bang Bish I Want To Hear You Say “I’m A Moron Who Wouldn’t Like Real Music Because It Has Too Many Words” (or something like that. One of the worse songs the early nineties inflicted on an unsuspectinc public), and — I think — Mmm Bop. If it wasn’t Mmm Bop, it was some other pair of syllables that feature in no English words at all. And they didn’t even play the whole songs. They only played a few lines from each one. It sounded like a Time Life Music advert.

You might as well have a Magic 8 Ball in charge of the proceedings.

And I’m really not sure I understand cricket. I though it was a nice, simple, polite game where people are nice to each other and drink a lot of tea. But apparently not.

Quite aside from the fact that it’s in fact full of dirty tricks and nastiness (timewasting just to let the clock tick over so you can get a draw more easily, usually), the rules are preposterously complicated. I only found out this week that LBW is any more complicated than simply “if the batsman’s leg stops the ball hitting the wickets, he’s out”. (At least it’s simple enough to understand the off-side in cricket.) Given those odds, even with Hawkeye and video replays and microphones in the stumps, and three umpires, mistakes are still made with alarming frequency. That, to me, renders that game largely pointless. You might as well have a Magic 8 Ball in charge of the proceedings.

Cricket remains the only game in history (to the best of my knowledge, anyway) where you can avoid losing using a well-timed rainstorm. If play is rained off it isn’t postponed; it just doesn’t happen. And if that means the game’s a draw (say, because one side have four million runs and the other have only two but still have three tail-end batsmen not out) then so be it. All your clever tactics in deciding when to declare and when to keep on batting go right out the window the moment a big cloud appears because that could easily cancel the rest of the match, even if it doesn’t actually rain.

And as I mentioned, it takes five days to play a game. And they play it in five game series. And sometimes it’s a draw! (Or a tie, which apparently is not the same thing in cricket.) They play the game for the best part of a month, and don’t even have a winner. What kind of a game is that? A stupid one, that’s what kind it is.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Child's Play

I've just seen quite an odd commercial break. They've shown three adverts in a row in which the main theme appears to be Parents Lying to Their Children.

First, we get a Green Giant sweetcorn advert. A mother is happily telling her two children that eating runner beans will make you become a runner and French Fries would make you become French. Firstly, this is ridiculous. This is Britain; we do not call chips French Fries. But still, the two moronic children happily guzzle down their sweetcorn in the hope of becoming emerald-shaded men of titanic proportions.

Our second advert is all about some sort of paper towel. In it, a father happily tells his ugly son that the way paper towels work is because it's cram packed with tiny, tiny elephants. Of course. Luckily, his snot-nosed child doesn't seem to believe him. Mainly because the child is about twelve and wouldn't believe tiny elephants would live in tissue paper. Thing is, the advert doesn't say that the elephant story isn't true. I think I'll sue on the count that my kitchen towel doesn't contain a tiny race of Elephantidae.

Finally, we get the most annoying cereal advert in the world. Even more annoying than that Frosties advert with the hyperactive child. It's the Rice Krispies advert where a mother tells her annoying daughter that rice doesn't snap, crackle nor pop because it hasn't turned into Krispy Rice by Kellogg's. They then try and look out for the three mythical characters by listening to a bowl of the famed cereal. They decide on which odd noise the cereal makes is determined to which character; Snap, Crackle or Pop.

My favourite bit of that advert is when the little girl chekily answers back "No mum, I think that's Snap". If she was my daughter, I'd tell her to shut up. Advertising clearly lacks responsible parentage nowadays.

James Nesbitt to Star in Cinderella – Probably Not As Cinderella

James Nesbitt is to star in yet another whoring out of a literary classic. This time he's doing a fairy tale; Cinderella, which is set to be *shocker*, a modern interpretation.

Announced today by the BBC, the plot (which would fit perfectly on CBBC were it not for some addition about human evolution that was clearly also the main subject of the famous Walt Disney version) involves Professor Prince (see what they did there?) and Cindy (AND THERE?!) in a university in a modern time. Cindy, a cleaner, wants to go to Borneo as the Professor’s assistant (which I suppose is kinda like wanting to go to the ball. Both "ball" and "Borneo" start with the letter B), so she looks for help from “fellow cleaner” and friend, Alice (think of her as the talking mouse). Two students seem to take the role as the evil step-sisters. As this is the modern version, they’ll either be chavs or there’ll be serious physical abuse or something to make it edgy, I’m hoping they curl one out on the hardwood floor to make her clean up, to signify the class divide obviously. That’s what I always used to do at University to keep my cleaner in her place.

Whilst the plot in the press release goes a bit vague, one can only presume that a few things will be certain. The Fairy Godmother will no doubt be a giant floating Nokia N95 with a smiley text face. The ball will be a rave. The carriage will become a Vauxhall Corsa. Glass slippers will become white Converse. She’ll lose one white Converse cause she’ll be off her face on ecstasy before walking face first into a wall. Last but not least, the King will be played by Keith Allen.

Worst still, I’ll probably be completely wrong and it’ll actually be good, despite it probably ending up with a name like “Cindy!”. Other fairy tales set for a modern remake in the same series will include Rapunzel (hair extensions in a three storey council house), The Emperor’s New Clothes (The Queen gets her tits out during a royal visit) and Billy Goat Gruff (which is just a shit fairy tale anyway).

BBC Crossover Condemned

The BBC today apologised for its recent crossover between Hustle and Crimewatch, saying it was "an error of judgement" and "in bad taste".

Forty two viewers called in to Crimewatch to offer information about a robbery, only to be told that the robbery had never happened and that it was in fact a promotional item for an up-coming episode of Hustle. Local neighbourhood watch groups were quick to condemn the stunt, claiming it trivialised the serious issues raised by Crimewatch, and could deter people from phoning in in future.

Crimewatch's presenter of twenty three years Nick Ross says that he had no idea the robbery was fictional when he was presenting it, and that he was so disgusted with the stunt that he would quit the show.

Tycoon Tower

Congratulations to ITV. They've managed to rip off another TV show. First came Torchwood, then came Primeval. First came Deal or No Deal, then came For The Rest Of Your Life. First came The Apprentice, then came the wonderous Tycoon (Tuesday, 9pm).

Tycoon has been advertised all week as Dragon's Den meets The Apprentice. Multi-millionaire and self-made smug bastard Peter Jones has been kind enough to choose six people to start their own businesses. In fact, he's so generous, he's investing £10,000 in each of them! Brilliant! The only flaw is each one of their ideas for a brand new scheme or invention seems to exist already. I don't know if you agree with me. Let's go through the list shall we.

First we meet duo Kathy and Helen. They are a couple of girl gardeners (in other words, unemployed). Their entrepreneur-tastic idea is to make a bunch of gardening tools for girls. What would fall into this category then? How about pink wellies. These two girls are seriously suggesting selling pink wellies as an original idea. I've seen pink wellies. I'm pretty sure they exist already. But, they seem pretty confident that their idea will make millions. Next up on the list is Elizabeth who wants to invent a new Vodka Juice Drink aimed at girls. Her plan is to use fresh fruit juice like orange and pineapple. Again, I draw a blank. I had a night shift at a pub on Sunday, and I'm pretty sure I made a couple of vodka and oranges.

We finish with some model whose name I didn't catch because it kept showing us images of her in a bikini.

Out of the six teams, my favourite is Justin. He lives in "Worcester in Worcestershire", and has come up with the most brilliant invention. A plastic bag... that you put other plastic bags into! How original is that idea? It's so brilliant, my own Mother also came up with this idea about ten years ago, and now we can't put anything in the airing cupboard for all the plastic bags filled with other plastic bags crammed inside of it. Justin also claims to have invented recycling. Justin is brilliant.

Next we move onto fitness instructor Ian. He's invented, well... designed, the next future Boy's Toy. A remote-controlled helicopter! But it's not just a normal remote-controlled helicopter.. it's for indoors! Ian has essentially invented smashed vases. Kudos to Ian. It's still better than 17-year old Tom's idea to create a newspaper aimed at teenagers and schoolkids. Hate to break it to you Tom, but that's what The Sun is for. We finish with some model whose name I didn't catch because it kept showing us images of her in a bikini. She wants to invent hair extensions that you just clip onto your hair. Now I know this already exists. If it doesn't turn out that this show was actually filmed in 1998, I don't think I'll be impressed by anything that features in it at all.

Now, the show wasn't too bad. It was an enjoyable watch, and would be mocked on TV Burp if it was still on the air. The downsides to it involved a rather loud musical backdrop underneath each of the character's backstories. It really didn't work.

*Sounds of violins and drums and stuff*

"Yes, I want to design a remote controlled helicopter"

*Choir singing dramatically*

There's also the brilliant name of the building where all the Tycoons-in-waiting worked. "Tycoon Tower". It's such an exciting name. I'm also pretty sure that's where the Animaniacs lived.

After watching 55 minutes of these idiots dawdle around wondering why the public don't want to buy pink wellies, it came to the exciting climax: who would Peter give a further £20,000 to? Well, the answer would be Ian, the helicopter-crazed lunatic. After a while explaining why Ian deserved the money the most, Peter decided to have a word with Elizabeth; the woman who invented Vodka and Orange.

Now to have an exciting business-orientated show, you're going to need a gritty catchphrase. "You're Fired" was made famous by Alan Sugar. "I'm Out" was made famous by the Scottish one from Dragon's Den. What is Peter's gritty catchphrase? As he stood by Elizabeth on a pier, he had to give the sad news.

"I didn't think that two weeks ago, I'd be talking to somebody about.. pulling the plug on their business. I'm sorry."

"I'll do better!"

"Okay, I'll think about it."

And then when it showed you "Next Time on Tycoon", it showed Elizabeth happily sat at her desk designing labels for her stupid drink. Peter's catchphrase is essentially "You're about to be fired, oh wait, no you're not".

Well done ITV. Well done.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Panel Beating

I fell firmly into the Jekyll camp on Saturday night. This was due largely to my long-standing belief that anything Steven Moffat writes will be brilliant and anything hosted by Ant and/or Dec will be dismal. (Whenever I see Ant and Dec I find that I like them and hate whatever they're presenting. I can't seem to help it.) I loved Jekyll, though I have to say it puzzled me somewhat. A comic writer and a cast best known for comedy (Peep Show, Coupling, the Yellow Pages ads, Green Wing, and so forth) come together to create a drama. Okay, I guess that makes sense. I look forward to seeing the BBC's new comedy made by newsreaders, and sports coverage done by classically trained actors.

But when it had finished, the television was left on, and thus watched BBC One's new comedy panel show Would I Lie To You largely by default. The show is a by-the-numbers panel game in the truest traditions of by-the-numbers panel games: one host, two regular captains, two or four guests, a theme, and no apparent desire to answer questions from either team. The only thing it appears to be lacking so far is one team that always wins.

To host it, the BBC have come crawling back to Angus Deayton. This seems strange to me. You will of course recall that they fired him from incredibly-similarly-named panel show Have I Got News For You some years ago, and since then Have I Got News For You has been running with increasingly dreary (and incompetent) "guest presenters". Now the BBC have apparently forgiven Deayton enough that he can host Would I Lie To You, but not enough to give him his old job back on Have I Got News For You. There's probably some reason of policy for this, and personally I expect him to appear as a contestant any day now. Meanwhile, the team captains are David Mitchell, the man who puts the Mitchell in Mitchell and Webb, and Lee Mack, who as far as I can tell appeared out of nowhere about a year ago and I'm very glad he did.

"We start, conventionally enough, with round one". It's like a quiz show virus. Eventually all shows will be announced this way.

As with all by-the-numbers panel games, the show consisted of five or six rounds, all of which were the same: determine if statements are true or false, under a thin guise of a "spotting lies" game. In one round, the statements were preceded by unrelated footage from the BBC archives. In another, they were read out by the other team. In one round, they brought on a guest to stand there while the statements were read out. Not a celebrity guest, mind. Just a guest. She was one of the panelists' mates. Each round is introduced by Deayton in his trademark style. You know the one, "we start, conventionally enough, with round one". It's his lasting legacy on Have I Got News For You, and he takes to to all new game shows he presents. It's like a quiz show virus. Eventually all shows will be announced this way.

The show was uninspired, formulaic, derivative, and brilliant. I watched Have I Got News For You for years, but now it just feels stale. Ian Hislop seems to have taken to just being mean to everyone, regardless of who they are, and Paul Merton is very clearly very bored of the whole thing. You can watch his face fall every time the latest novelty round is announced. The audience laughs out loud, but watch Merton. You can see it in his eyes. The show's lost its soul.

But Would I Lie To You is fresh, and the panel is new and shiny, and Deayton, Mack and Mitchell are all very funny people. You don't watch it for the format (which is tripe); you watch it for the panel. Just like you don't go down the pub to do the quiz on your own. At least, I don't. Apparently I stay home and watch panel games.

Can You Read My Mind?

I like watching game shows. In the absence of good game shows, the best thing to watch is of course really bad game shows. Unfortunately, there's recently been a raft of game shows that, while bad, aren't bad enough to be so-bad-they're-good. All of them are based on the fundamental misconception that game show contestants, never the smartest bunch, have an innate ability to divine the inner thoughts of their fellow players.

Can you work out who earns £23,000 and who earns £26,000 based on which one of them knows who wrote The Mill on the Floss? Yes? Well that won't help, because they won't ask anything that highbrow.

Channel Five (or if you prefer, five) recently launched a show called Payday. It's a thoroughly dull quiz, based around the concept of trying to guess what other people earn, and hence winning their wages. (You don't actually win their wages off them, mind. That'd be too interesting. You win a prize equivalent to their wages.) In the final round of Payday, the winning contestant can pocket the annual pay of the highest earner among the six other contestants if he or she can match all six of those contestants to their wage. They know what six jobs the contestants do, but not who does which. All they know about the other contestants is the manner in which they answer general knowledge questions. There are 720 ways of matching up six contestants to six salaries. Can you work out who earns £23,000 and who earns £26,000 based on which one of them knows who wrote The Mill on the Floss? Yes? Well that won't help, because they won't ask anything that highbrow. This game is flatly impossible. Perhaps this is no accident; Channel Five probably can't afford to be giving away tens of thousands of pounds every day, and since you can't do premium-rate phone-ins anymore, these things have to make some financial sense.

ITV, never ones to miss out on making bad television if they can possibly avoid it, have their own conceptually flawed show. It is called Golden Balls, and is hosted by Jasper Carrot, who owned a large part of Celador when they invented (or, if you believe this man and his astonishingly poorly-written book, stole) Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? and so has more money than any man will ever need and therefore has no excuse. I shan't bore you with the details, but essentially, the contestants have several golden spheres with different amounts of money inside, some of which are on show to the other players, and some of which are secret. After they've chatted for a bit, there's a vote, and whoever has most votes is eliminated and takes their balls with them. Since the balls left at the end are used to make the prize, it's helpful to vote off the people with the least money in their balls. And herein lies the problem. There's no reason for any player to do anything other than pretend they have more money than they do, and no reason for any other player to believe them. So the game quickly descends into this:

"I have the twenty-thousand pound ball!"

"No! I do!"

"Well you don't, because I have it."



This is not the most thrilling spectacle that has ever been seen on television. Indeed, it ranks somewhere below switching over to Richard & Judy where you can probably listen to Julia Hartley-Brewer's opinion on something that was in a tabloid newspaper the previous day.

So, if any game show commissioning editors are reading this, please remember: we are not all Derren Brown. We cannot spot liars at twenty paces. (Remember, if they look up and to the right, that means they're recalling visual information about sums of money written on the inside of gold balls. If they're looking up and to the right, they're accessing the creative centres of their brain and inventing sums of money written on the insides of gold balls.) Watching people try isn't fun. It is particularly not fun when the people trying are the 'characters' you so love to populate your shows with (that is to say, people who talk loudly and insistently while not actually expressing any coherent thoughts.) Please stop it.

Raindrops on Roses

"24" Series 7 to be "Worst One Yet"

After much agreed outrage from every single fan of the show, the producers of 24 have decided to revamp the show for the series to be aired in 2008.

"For the past few years, we've tried to come up with original ideas" states producer Howard Gordon. "The thing is, it's difficult to come up with new original storylines that are emotional, gripping and dramatic. Many fans of today sit down and watch the show expecting to be disappointed. So, we're just going to play on that".

The basic plan is to deliberately make series seven illogical and implausible. Writers and producers believe that if they purposely write storylines from thin air, the audience should love it.

"First, we're going to make Jack Pregnant" says wrinkled-face teaboy Ron Howard, "this will be explained by all the radioactivity that Bauer has absorbed in the past ten years of his life."

"Also, the main terrorist threat will be 24 jar of killer bees spread around Los Angeles. Jack will have to try and track down one jar every hour. We will also add about three storylines per episode, but they will be resolved before the closing seconds of the episode."

Fans of the once-passable TV drama anticipate this new series, and believe that more people will watch it as they don't have to sit through all twenty-four episodes of the series.

"Hell, it'll still be better than Lost" states main star Kiefer Sutherland.

Britain’s Got Talent and the Relative Future of British Telly

So I thought I’d start off with a clever title, even though it has very little to do with the actual article I am about to portray, hell it probably doesn't even make any sense on its own. I just wanted to counter pretty much everything what has already been said about Britain’s Got Talent. I bloody loved it. I absolutely, positively, toe-tappingly loved it. And as good as Jekyll may or not be, Britain’s Got Talent is without a doubt the better of the two for Saturday night telly.

Saturday night telly is all about the silly, the wacky, and yes, occasionally, about a 9 year old flying about and uncontrollably smiling so much she’d probably been attacked with a botox needle the night before by her parents who saw their chance to be rich and famous. Think back to the greats: Brucie, Gladiators, even Doctor Who. At least they used to use their serious sparingly. Even then it’s either a salt shaker killing a tin robot or a muscle-bound lady getting smacked with a foam baton and breaking her neck on the floor below whilst a whole nation cheers and, deep down, hopes she can never walk again. Or maybe that’s just me...

Ant (left), Paul Potts (centre), Dec (right), Not Pictured - Bad teeth

Saturday nights in shouldn’t be about being immersed in a plot-rich drama. Whack that on a weekday and I’ll give it a watch. Saturday night is about laughing at someone make £250 for falling into a bin or aww-ing when a 6 year old goes on national TV and sings a lovely song, even though she is a bit shit, and being wowed by a man who apparently sold mobile phones for a living when he hits that note perfectly for the 8th time this week. It’s what X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Pop Idol did perfectly. I’m just confused at why they spread it across a mere week when there was a Summer’s worth of Saturday night ratings wrapped up perfectly for them there.

Thanks to all of you, for the 4 minutes he sings, the Queen won’t be able to nod off and we’ll all have a cranky Queen.

So to end the rant abruptly, what did I think of Britain’s Got Talent? Well you already know I loved it, even though it had the depth of an empty child’s swimming pool. I honestly wanted the man and his monkey to win, purely because it’d probably send the Queen over the top and snap her out of the boredom coma she elapses into every night of the Royal Variety Performance. As good as watching a monkey dance to Earth Song again would be, seeing the Queen snap and grabbing a microphone to call her public “fucking morons” for putting this act on stage of the most prestigious of events whilst throwing chairs at the audience below in a fit of rage whilst denouncing the Monarchy and biting Camilla’s face off would… well it’d certainly stay on the Sky+ for a while. But no, we all decided to be sensible and put the good act on stage. Thanks to all of you, for the 4 minutes he sings, the Queen won’t be able to nod off because he’ll be so bloody loud and we’ll all have a cranky Queen. After the show, she’ll probably push a small child down some stairs at the end of the show. So I hope you now all realise that you’ll soon have a young girl’s cracked skull on your conscience.

Just once, please end the Royal Variety Performance like this.

So in summary: Jekyll, ace at any other time. But, if you air it against Tiswas Reunited, I think I'll pass.

Hustle and Bustle

Occasionally, we get spin-offs. Sometimes, these can be watchable (such as Frasier, Torchwood and Ashes to Ashes. I don't care if the last one hasn't aired yet, it's going to be brilliant). Sometimes, they aren't so watchable (such as Joey, Celebrity Big Brother or Swiss Toni). However, sometimes we get some things which are worse than a spin-off. I don't know if this particular genre even has a name, but I'm on about the programs which discuss the show that's just been aired. I'm talking about rubbish such as "Pure 24", "Wife Swap: The Aftermath" and "Russell Brand Talks About His Genitals After Big Brother Has Aired".

The rubbish episodes of The Real Hustle always follow the same plotline, kind of like My Family.

However, one of these particular shows is half enjoyable. I'm on about BBC3's "The Real Hustle". It isn't technically a discussion show, it's an original show in it's own right. But the fact is they couldn't have just called it "Conmen" or "Attractive People Rob Pedestrians". No, they had to try and leech in the Hustle fans. The show is utterly hilarious though. Sometimes, the cons are good. Othertimes, they are a bit rubbish. The rubbish episodes of The Real Hustle always follow the same plotline, kind of like My Family. It's always like this:

"Sometimes, people can try and sell you stuff which is actually cheaper than what they say it is, we call this hustle "The Selling Things for More Expensive Than They Actually Are Scam".

[GIANT TITLE ON SCREEN: "The Selling Things for More Expensive Than They Actually Are Scam."]

"Alex has walked in to this unsuspecting building with a bottle of champagne/box of televisions/eight billion pounds. He then convinces somebody to take it for a cheap price"

"Would you like this expensive item for a cheap price?"


"What the unsuspecting person doesn't know is that what they've just paid for the item is actually MORE than what the item cost. Hahaha. What an idiot!"


"You see, what I did was replace the expensive looking item for a cheap imitation"

"But how did he do it?"

"I replaced it with an imitation product.""

"Let's see that from ANOTHER angle"

...etc, etc...

(Talking to camera) "I don't know what happened. He came in and said that it was expensive and was selling it for cheap. What a fool I feel."

[CUT TO: Alex in the studio]

"Always remember that before somebody sells you something, make sure you check I.D and don't be a fucking idiot."

Brilliant. In every episode, there is always at least one scam which follows this exact structure.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Jekyll and Hyde on BBC, Heckling Jibes on ITV.

It's a pity, because I've heard nothing but bad things about Steven Moffat's latest drama, "Jekyll", which aired on Saturday night. This is possibly because nobody actually watched it and just assumed it was rubbish. I blame Anthony and Declan's latest "Who Can Sing or Juggle" reality show on the other side. Apparently, people aren't willing to give new dramas a chance. They'd rather be entertained by clapping non-entities and singing six-year olds. This said, there hasn't really been a decent BBC Drama since their "Only Human" series back in 1999 which nobody remembers.

This said, I decided to give both shows a chance. The new updated version of "Jekyll" starts James Nesbitt, the voice of the Yellow Pages, and is written by Steven Moffat. Moffat is responsible for twenty-eight brilliant episodes of Coupling, four fantastic episodes of Doctor Who and the more-than-silly Press Gang. He is a big fan of writing non-linear plot driven dramas. He also has a bloody sharp wit about him. This opening episode of his new drama is no different. We jump into the first episode with James Nesbitt already coping with his new life as two people, and he's oddly already used to it. He's got a family, Alan Johnson from Peep Show following him about, as well as two lesbians and a black van interested in his evil counterpart. And I've got to tell you: it was a bloody scary 55 minutes. If you've ever seen Moffat's Doctor Who episodes, you'll notice how brilliantly scary he can be without the need to kill anybody. Nowadays in Film and TV, the only way to scare somebody is to kill every third teenager who dares meddle with whoever the lead Psychopath is. Not true. Moffat's already succesfully given us scary gas mask children, clockwork androids and statues that only move when you blink; without even killing a single person! He successfully manages this brilliant formula to this new drama.

As mentioned in the script, this alter-ego is "a child in a man's body". Keep your dirty Gary Glitter jokes to yourself.

My favourite character is definately Nesbitt's interpretation of Hyde. It was a brilliant mix of Professor Snape and Jim Carrey's The Mask character. And, despite his violent streak, it's bloody adorable! As mentioned in the script, this alter-ego is "a child in a man's body". Keep your dirty Gary Glitter jokes to yourself.

So, on the BBC, we have great suspensful drama without the need to kill anybody. What have we got on ITV.


"Britain's Got Talent."

Now, ITV haven't really had a successful Saturday night show since the days of You Bet. In fact, they've basically been screwed since the arrival of a certain Timelord on the other side of the airwaves. I will say this was entertaining. I'll also say that some of the talent displayed was particularly enjoyable. It's just... that infuriating Amanda Holden! It's always the same. She's a sucker for ugly people, old people and young children who think they can sing. She can't be a fair biased judge if her maternity instinct kicks in whenever there's a four-year old in the room. People always give Simon Cowell a hard time, but he always gives his brilliant opinion which is always fact. Then, people go on and rant "Oh yes, but Simon, you signed the Teletubbies to a record label! Ahahaha!". Yes, he did. But he made a truckload of money out of it. He makes smart decisions does Simon. He doesn't turn into a blubbering wreck of emotions like Amanda Holden.

Moving on, and we had.. oh.. a guy with a monkey. A miming monkey. What the jam-mastering hell is going on?

Still, I was able to catch the finalé in the pub last night. Little Miss Muffet who kept singing showtunes annoyed the blithering hair out of me. Was her speaking the lyrics to "I'm Getting Married in the Morning" whilst cockney-jumping around the stage a talent? There was also that little six year old girl who sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Which was... as good as her audition when she sang exactly the same song. That's not a talent, it's a party peice. Moving on, and we had.. oh.. a guy with a monkey. A miming monkey. What the jam-mastering hell is going on?

Still, we had a brilliant guy singing opera. He won, which was the only choice it could have been as he was the only person on the show displaying any sort of talent. Still, at the end of the day, this show is no different to Pop Factor or Any Show Will Do. Well, with the difference that people who can juggle bottles of vodka can apply to be on it. It annoys me that people would rather sit down and watch a bunch of nobodies sing rather than sit down and watch a good drama on the BBC.

Did I mention how brilliant Steven Moffat is? Okidokey.

Friday, 15 June 2007


Evening all.

Like everybody else in the world, I watch about twenty-seven hours of television a day. Also, like everybody else, I feel that my opinions matter. So, a blog has been created. So, along with whoever else decides to tag along, I'll be ranting or praising various TV shows, adverts and anything else newsworthy.

We'll also be shoving in the occasionally comic strip, animation and maybe even a podcast or two. WHO KNOWS?

Hope you enjoy it here. We'll certainly try.