Thursday, March 30, 2006

Where, oh where, is Dani Behr?

She's presenting a reality marriage TV series in America called The Littlest Groom. Think Joe Millionaire but instead of a rich bachelor, the winner's prize is a nuptially-inclined eligible dwarf. She's matching up little people. It's on Bravo.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday Night's TV (28/3/06)

Well, not Tuesday Night's TV, in fact, because what I actually watched last night was Arsenal vs. Juventas - through no fault of my own I hasten to add - and a football match doesn't exactly warrant a critique. "Arsenal got the ball, they kicked it into a goal thereby scoring a goal, and then they did it again in the second half." Ta-da! Job done. Why, by the way, do they have to endlessly rerun the football that you've already watched in-between and after the match? You've just seen it so what is the bloody point? Anyway, whatever. The purpose of this post is first of all to redress the anti-establishment balance of my last one in which I slagged off the police force for being thick and violent. I had my own My Name is Earl-like moment the next day when I believed my car had been stolen (in fact towed away) and who did I call? Well, the rozzers, obviously. I couldn't help but feel karma making bunny ears behind my head as I thanked them profusely over the phone for being "so nice". I hope that admitting my fault will restore my karmic equilibrium and I can go back to "just trying to be a better person. My name is Ellie".

By the way, an event on America's Next Top Model three weeks ago has been playing on my mind even though I didn't mention it at the time. The models were spending the day with the Wildboyz and, at some point, one of the contestants, Lisa, donned a nappy and proceeded to urinate herself in front of everybody in the room. No-one really mentioned it at the time and I was incredibly surprised that they didn't bring it up in that week's eviction. However, the next week Lisa was eliminated for being "too much". The quiet passing over of the incident struck me. Did Tyra Banks and her crew realise that they had someone with mental problems potentially winning the show? Did they pass her into the care of a psychiatrist when she left the competition? Does anyone else agree that these were the actions of a seriously disturbed young woman or do I take things a bit too seriously? I wish I could come to terms with what I saw, but peace of mind following this particular bit of ANTM has proved elusive.

Great piece of telly started on Sunday night, TV Heaven, Telly Hell (C4), which I won't review yet because the guest was only Alan Davies and I'm sure there's going to be better people in the weeks to come. Hosted by Sean Lock (writer and actor of the incomprehensibly overlooked Fifteen Storeys, as Charlie Brooker pointed out in Screenwipe), each week somebody will outline their favourite and least favourite programmes. I hope it will be filled with famous people who'll make me feel a little better about watching telly because they too get over-involved in empty, vacuous crap and, as a consequence, reveal more about themselves than the programme in question (see above). Indeed, I felt quite uncomfortable at Davies' revelation that he likes to watch the pneumatic women on Aerobics Oz Style of a morning while in bed. That also was a bit "too much". I'm working on my own list but I'm already pretty damn sure that Children's Hospital is going to be high on the hellish column. Who ARE the people that find kids with cancer entertaining?? And don't even get me started on the coma-inducing Davina. Anyone got an axe?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tuesday Night's TV (21/3/06)

Had two rather shocking realisations about aspects of British culture last night while watching the tellybox. One came at the end of Jimmy's Farm, Jimmy being a pseudo-Jamie Oliver who has set himself up as a pig farmer in Cambridgeshire. At the end of this programme, briefly, as Jimmy and some of the other locals gathered for their Wicker Man-like weekend activities, they showed a bunch of them BLACKED UP, with WIGS ON, strumming away on musical instruments and singing songs while dressed up like Deep South slaves. Now I'm not one to rag on regional tradition. You can morris dance the night away if the fancy takes you as far as I'm concerned. But isn't that a little....racist? Doing a version of the black and white minstrel show for the local fair? I have to say I was completely speechless, and remained so for the duration of Rail Cops; the show which shows the Transport police to be the same sort of officious little bullies as their Metropolitan comrades, with just about the same levels of ignorance......and aggression. Now I'm sure they have to deal with idiots in the course of their work. But even if you don't like the cut of someone's gib (and the bloke was French), I'm not sure it's absolutely necessary for two men to stick their knees in his back whilst ramming their hands down his underpants to check whether he has a weapon. I'm also not sure that calling him Borat was entirely affectionate. Also - while the boys in public transport blue have to be on their guard these days - closing down Westminster tube for two hours because some white powder on the floor might be anthrax (but not supervising it, so in fact a cleaner nearly swept it up), simply demonstrates why everyone thinks the police force are bit of a joke. Idea for Met - if you stay off the telly, we won't see quite how incompetent you are, and the Law can stagger on for a few more years under the illusion that we have respect for it.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


We have such a rubbish TV in our living room. Fella and I are constantly risking our lives by hanging out of the first floor window in order to adjust the aerial on the windowsill. All this just to get a sharper view of Noel Edmonds and his tidy beard.
Anyway when the reception's a bit off, Teletext takes on a life of it's own, randomly swapping characters for numerals, and reinterpreting the news headlines for me. I liked this one on the entertainment page yesterday; "JACKSON SHAT DOWN NE'ERLAND".
And in a way, he did.....

Friday, March 17, 2006

Thursday Night's TV (16/3/06)

Anyone who has caught Chantelle: Living the Dream on E4 probably agrees that its more my idea of a nightmare. The newly inaugurated celeb is going to have to hope that her existence will perk up a bit in the luxury department; over the course of the series we have seen her spend one night on German BB which looked horrific, an awful lot of time on Loose Women, The Wright Stuff and Richard & Judy, and even more with the Ordinary Boy. Now God forbid I should ever share an opinion with George Galloway, but every time I see Preston I'm inclined to agree that he IS a "sneak" and that, yes, you CAN tell it from his eyes. What a charmless man he really is. He met Chantelle's whole family for tea last week and just skulked moodily on the periphery of the room. I'd have been livid if I was her, all the way back in the car, "And that was my GRANDAD! He was in the goddamn WAR for Christ's SAKE, show some RESPECT and LOOK at him when he's talking to you next time!!" Poor old Chants. No freebies, no knight in shining armour, no discernible talent. Just the endless roundabout of daytime TV appearances and freezing cold shoots in bikinis for 'Now'. Living the dream indeed.
I watched the final of Project Catwalk because the show has garnered so much bad press, I thought it was my place as a connoisseur of shit-truffles to sample it. Most of the adverse publicity centred on the choice of Liz Hurley as presenter, which I think the editors must have retropectively tried to remedy because she only took up about 180 seconds of airtime in total. You could still tell her detractors were speaking the truth though, even in that relatively short space of time she made Chantelle look like David Attenborough.
Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe had its last programme of a three episode pilot last night, and I shall certainly be writing to BBC4 to demand they commission the series, and so should you. We are living in an age where a new breed of telly is emerging from the placental sac of very fat and probably crack-addicted mother. I don't mean reality TV (although I include some examples), because the notion of reality TV covers far too broad a church of programming these days and requires further, more analytical subcategorisation. I'm thinking of the "panel of experts" reality gameshow (Strictly Come Dancing, It Takes Two, The X Factor), late night interactive "audience call-up" gameshows (Quizmania, Dare), the "domestic harridan" self-help show (You Are What You Eat, Perfect Housewife), and others. It's an expanding list. What these programmes have done, to use Brooker's terminology, is turn the TV from being at the "heart of the family" into "a tawdry little slot machine in the corner", either through encouraging us to develop emotional attachments to contestants, manipulating us temporally and at a very vulnerable hour to part with cash, or ensuring that we all buy the associated McKeith or Turner book from the series. The purpose of all these programmes is the same though - to FLEECE us. Telly isn't a friend. It's our enemy. And I elect Brooker to be our commander of operations in the dark months of war which loom ahead, especially with 'ITV Play' just about to avariciously launch. Our country needs him, and your country needs you!
Oh, amazing DOND yesterday - possiby the best ever? - Saj stuck to her guns after losing the £250,000 and revealed £50,000 in the box she had refused to deal to the banker or swap. I nearly cried. Oh, alright then. I did cry. Of note also was Edmonds sexual attachment to poor Sajila, who had to put up with having her bottom groped by him. There aren't many sides to Edmonds I like, but this one I certainly don't and I implore him to keep his filthy mitts to himself in future. Don't blow it before you've even got it back, Noel.

Monday, March 13, 2006

This Weekend's TV (11-12/3/06)

One of the best Deal or No Deal's yet on Saturday night (to vie with Sam's game last week). Marcus, it turns out, is neither a drag-queen nor a low-end rentboy as suspected, but a make-up artist who works on a cosmetics counter. A related field, I suppose. Anyway, he was a very funny and engaging player who took the mic away from Edmonds during the game and went into the audience like some sort of third-rate Trisha, actually asking Noel on the studio floor if he "had depression, or needed a paternity test?". While he dealt one deal too soon (at £31,000 when the next offer was £55,000) it was for a £100 box so he still beat the banker (whom he advised over the phone to stick to cream-based products given his advancing years. What the banker wants make-up for is another matter. Maybe he's the drag queen.) However Saturday night was a paltry affair without Dancing on Ice, and DOND clashed with ITV's best offering of classic muppet moments at 7 pm. Watched Parkinson in desperation but it just confirmed that the man needs to put im a home, not on our screens, being about as incisive as a retarded lamb.
Anyone following Shipwrecked: Battle of the Islands? I increasingly find myself tuning in of a Sunday morning; not because of the amount of teenage flesh on display, but because I really want one of the islands to smash the other one and win the £70,000 by attracting the most new islanders. I can't stand the Tigers, the island composed almost entirely of heiresses, bitchy city types, arrogant men and total dweebs - and feel a complete affinity for the Sharks made up of layabouts, northeners, cockneys, eccentrics and party animals. The Sharks don't build a shelter for the nighttime - oh no! They build a bar, and a bloody good one at that. The boring, smug Tigers - instead of lazing around on a paradisical beach - spend their time making little signposts to direct people around their compound. The site's only about a quarter of an acre in size. Hardly a sprawling metropolis. Anyway, I'm much more aligned with the laissez-faire attitude of the Sharks, and hope they win. Yet I have a feeling the programme may pall before my interest in the contestants, as apparently the poor bastards were out there for five months and the series has only just reached month three. Also am very jealous of the sunny climes as I lie on the sofa with sixteen jumpers on. Why oh why is it so cold???

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wednesday Night's TV (8/3/06)

I had that sinking feeling of deja-vu watching The Apprentice last night, when I realised I was ashamed of my sex for the second series running. What is it about the girl's group in the first few weeks of this programme? Why can't they just get along? Why do they have to snipe and whinge and compete against each other? Compared to the "'A'-Team", who managed somehow to band together behind the obnoxious Syed as leader in last night's task, the girls' behaved absolutely disgracefully. This was mainly due to the fact that they never accepted Jo as their project manager. Not that the deranged ginger made it easy for them to do so, nominating herself and then wasting ten minutes bombarding them with reasons why they shoudn't mess her about. Of course the other way of leading a team is to assume that your underlings accept your authority, and pull rank only when you've found evidence to the contrary. Anyway, it got me thinking about why, in The Apprentice, it seems difficult for a larger group of women to work as a team. Is it to do with women's continued comparative disadvantage in business? Are women in this sphere of work a bit like asylum seekers in the police force? - you presume that they would do everything to help their fellow asylum seekers, but they'd probably just emulate their superiors and toe the institutionally racist line in order to keep their job. While women continue to be subordinate to men in business - evident in the vast discrepancies between their vast salaries and the cultural fact of the 'glass ceiling' - the notion of team-work among and even the sisterhood (gasp! That obsolete 70s concept) of a larger group of females is a distant hope, or maybe a pre-capitalist memory. Anyway, enough feminist diatribe for the moment. Karen, the corporate lawyer, got fired from the show, much to everyone's surprise. I'd just like to remind people that this is the woman who suggested to her teammates, "We're all sexy women, why not use it?" in the first task. And I detected more than a little use of decolletage to close deals in last night's task too. Fuck her, is what I say. This isn't an episode of Ally McBeal you know. Once Jo gets locked up in a padded cell, my hope is that the Brummy bull mastiff woman will rise to the top. At least she'll get there through hard-headedness rather than cute looks. Good riddance, Karen.

OMG, DEAL OR NO DEAL FANS!! Can you belive how many times the £250,000 has been in the contestant's box recently? First there was that girl with the nice teeth last week, then the adopted woman on Saturday (possibly my favourite contestant so far, barring Oak), and yesterday Germaine dealt at £75,000 and had the quarter of a million ALL THE TIME! When is someone going to have enough guts to see it through? It has got to happen one day. The favourite future contestant for me at the moment is Marcus, whose long blonde hair and carefully plucked eyebrows lead me to speculate that he may be a drag queen by profession. Can't wait to find out what his deal is. In a sexual sense I mean, rather than financial.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Friday Night's TV (3/2/06)

I know I've been fairly quiet recently, but the truth is that I watched such a barrage of rubbish on Wednesday night that I felt seriously disturbed and had to take to my bed for a few days. I should have taken the fact that Davina was the first programme I attempted to watch as an omen that something was terribly wrong, turned the gogglebox off and pursued more erudite activities. Instead I watched that grimacing woman like a fool, mesmerised by her ability as an interviewer to be both sycophantic and completely self-obsessed at the same time. The Apprentice obviously lifted my spirits, but then the evening went rapidly downhill in a flurry of Club Reps: The Workers, Footballer's Wives (not a patch on the previous series) and Young, Posh and Loaded. Such was the lobe-ache caused that I ended up monging in front of Quizmania and Dare, both late-night offerings which aim to fleece your wallet through stupifying your brain. Young, Posh and Loaded was quite funny though. We met Olly Milton, a nouveau riche and morbidly obese teen who is proud to announce that he "goes to university at Oxford" - although fails to mention he means Oxford Brookes. Olly is living proof that money doesn't buy you happiness, let alone influence or intellect. He threw two parties during the course of the show, one in Barbados, and yet was still unable to find enough friends to come to them. Perhaps this has something to do with what a first-class twat he is. His second party ended at 10.30 pm - about half an hour after it started - at which point he threw his guests out because he was tired. Only a character such as Olly Milton can actually make you feel nostalgic for Bruno de Cadanet.

Last night though The IT Crowd finally became funny to me, and My Name is Earl continued to prove that it's one of the best comedies on TV. What I love about the latter is how perfect a single episode is. Each week the show stands alone; the plot is involved but resolves, and the jokes are good (ie. Earl's ex-wife tells him that his best friend will not be attending his birthday drink, on which day she has competitively planned her wedding, because, "I've given him a twenty dollar gift voucher for Patti the daytime hooker"). The IT Crowd isn't exactly Father Ted but nor is it Shoot the Writers, and for that we must be thankful.

Charlie Brooker, my anti-hero, started a new show about TV on BBC4 this week (not BBC3, you note, the channel of the devil). Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe is my new favourite thing, the King of shows about telly, to which Harry Hill's TV Burp must now play the queen. I was pleased to see that he picked out the "LIKE ME! LOVE ME! PLEASE, PLEASE PISS ON ME!" presenting style of Justin Lee Collins, whom he contrasted unfavourably with Jakob Brunowski. JLC is the embodiment of annoying - when is someone going to put that bovine, bumpkin Jamie B out of his misery so that he can hang up his fool's motley and go and work in the Sunny Delight factory where he belongs? Anyway, watch out for Charlie Brooker on Thursdays, he's pure, bilious fun.