Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hair Wars (23/4/07)

This wasn't at all the programme I expected, having read the TV guide for Monday night, but Morgan Matthews made a fascinating documentary out of the ostensible subject matter of competitive hairdressing. Cue lots of images of ridiculous hairstyling: the men looked the funniest, particularly in the 'fashion' section of the competition, with particularly kitsch creations indescribable within mere language. It was Dawn, however, the 14-year-old step-daughter of John Phelps (a winner of the world cup of hairdressing in the 1990s) who became the focus of the programme. A troubled teen, tagged by the police and unloved by her real father, hairdressing was seen as her route out of crime and an inevitable stay at Her Majesty's Pleasure. But she just couldn't help herself from attempting to bottle winos and defying her curfew, and the documentary veered into a study of adolescent deviance which made for severely uncomfortable viewing. At one point, Matthews gave her twin sister a camera to record her own observations, aware that Dawn had become the centre of the family's attention, but Dawn stole it and that was the end of that. When you learnt that Dawn was simply desperate to see a father who had moved on with a new girlfriend and saw his first offspring as part of a forgettable previous existence, Hair Wars came to explore the effects of the dismembered modern family much more cogently than it did its premise of competitive hairdressing. Disturbing stuff.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Apprentice (18/4/07) and Holby City (17/4/07)

The Apprentice is the most brilliantly structured, gripping programme on television. From the moment the task gets going through to the boardroom showdown, there is not a bit of flab and absolutely no opportunity to make yourself a cup of tea. It just builds and builds until the inevitable despair of Sir Alan when he realises what a bunch of dunces he has as potential employees. Last night's laugh-out-loud moment came when Adam, team leader of Eclipse, employed a Measure for Measure style of management - explaining to Sir Alan, as he was being berated for prancing around in a lion suit instead of selling sweets, that the suit helped him to oversee what his team was doing covertly. Yes, because a FULL-LENGTH LION SUIT is as anonymous as disguise comes. I shall be sure to remember this technique if ever I need to stage the Duke in production. Genius.

Not so genius was Holby City the night before last, which unashamedly ripped off the plot of Flatliners for one of it's storylines. The thing is, Flatliners was not only a lot of balls, but also a film, and the premises of the cinema tend to be on a slightly larger and more unbelievable scale than TV. So it was just incredibly embarrassing watching a group of med students nearly kill each other on weekday telly for the purpose of finding out if there's anything on the other side. The leader was inevitably constructed as evil, laughing darkly as he injected himself with 10 mg of deathjuice. When he crossed back over the Styx and his mate asked, "What did you seeee?" with all the acting skill of a GCSE student, it was me who wanted to die. Literally eating a cushion, and my flatmate had his jumper firmly pulled over his head in the vain hope of making it stop. We won't even go into the storyline about the African doctor who nearly killed someone because, well, did the script imply it was because she was trained in Africa? It certainly seemed that way to me. Bad Holby, bad, bad Holby.

I also have to mention the most bizarre quote on TV in quite some time which came from Mr Miss Pageant - a programme about the transgendered Miss World competition and in which a Thai competitor stated, "I'm sucking a woman's cock. I'm not gay." I simply can't make head nor tail of it......

Friday, April 13, 2007

Hotel Babylon (12/4/07)

Hotel Babylon is funny. Well it's not actually, it's really bad, but that's what makes it funny. It was the last in the series last night - I won't bother you with the details but Tamsin Outhwaite made her exit for good. It was an incredibly sentimental episode, in which Max Beesley offered voiceovers about how all the cogs are important to Hotel Babylon, how every worker helps it to run like "a well-oiled machine". The cliches and commonplaces took on the status of great profundities by the end of the programme, so that the final voiceover had Outhwaite claiming, "What is a hotel? A hotel is a place to stay." Can you hear it? Can you hear the words coming from Outhwaite's mouth like some latter-day Plato?

Funny thing, voiceovers. They're able to generate automatic gravitas just by virtue of being voice-overs - they sound as if someone is looking back on something years later with greater wisdom, or perhaps like the universal consciousness part of their brain is at work rather then the petty, day-to-day, individual bit. So when a writer expresses the banal or stupid through this device it becomes hilarious; similar to Tony Blair answering PMQs after having inhaled helium. I wondered also - disturbed by the final scene between Outhwaite and Beesley - if the workers at Hotel Babylon are like family as the voiceovers told us OVER and OVER again, does that make Tamsin's kissing of Max incest? The final V/O should have started during this - "What is incest? Incest is sex with a close relative....."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Worst Sex Change Surgeon in the World (10/4/07) and The Apprentice (11/4/07)

I wasn't going to mention this, but Channel 4, oh my god. Having spared us wank week, they then put on this 'documentary' which was really an opportunity to see some psychopath botch up people's genitals. Who watches this stuff? Well, admittedly, I did try, but I was defeated THREE TIMES. It was horrific. They showed a video of Dr Brown preparing for one sex-change operation, holding up his sketches of the procedure for the camera which seriously looked like my 5 year old half-sister had drawn them. The there was a knife, a cock, and a lot of blood. Turned over. Tried again 15 mins later, this time there was a fanny and lots of blood. Turned over. Third time, Butcher Brown had managed to chop off someone's leg, thereby killing him (he must have thought it was an awfully big penis). But they showed the pictures of the corpse. I mean, that's practically snuff, isn't it? I repeat, who watches it? Who is able to watch it? OK, so the murder(s) did occur and may be of interest to some people, but Channel 4's documentaries are getting increasingly gratuitous while masquerading as objective docujournalism. I'd say I'm pretty hardcore when it comes to operations, but that's TV for the mentally ill. And whoever produced it needs help too, with their mortal soul.

The Apprentice was fairly depressing last night in that the women's team decided to sell kisses - ie. themselves - to make money for the task. I commented on this last year, women in business acting as if feminism never happened. There is a sort of business in which women sell kisses - the oldest profession - but we can do without that it the millennial workplace, I feel. Jadene was against it, and has gone up in my estimation as a result. And Gerri got the boot last night; I was glad despite commenting on her promise previously. I'm afraid I mistook her severely elevated left eyebrow for shrewdness. It appears it was just a lucky trick of the face.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Nada (10/4/07)

Apprentice tonight, Apprentice tonight, Apprentice tonight. Sooo excited.....

Telly was rubbish last night. I tried Get Your Act Together With Harvey Goldsmith but didn't know who Saxon were in the first place, so it seemed pointless rooting for their comeback. That show needs bigger names. And Goldsmith is such an unrelenting cock, I found myself engrossed in finding pictures of Vanessa Feltz for a collage I'm planning instead of watching his bloated mug. Maybe I'll watch nothing except The Apprentice until Big Brother comes back. (Unlikely). Speaking of which, I faced the terrible truth with a fellow BB fanatic this weekend that, if it goes down the same contrived root as it did last year, I won't be watching. We looked at each other with genuine horror as the words came out of my mouth, but it's out there now, so I may as well share it with you. (Though Endemol are so clever, we probably won't realise we've been manipulated until week 10, by which point it will be August and I'll be pasty for another year. We did also phone each other last week and say, "It's April now, that means it's May next, and you know what that means....?" I'm not as free of the obsession as I'm claiming).

Now you must go to disappointed kid's blog and see the latest video he's posted. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Apprentice episode 2 and Deadline (4/4/07)

The Apprentice kicked up a gear last night and showed that it may even compete with the first series after a disappointing second. There were good quantities of incompetence, bad pitching and jargon ("ideation" anyone?). Ifti got fired because he didn't "bring it to the table" - a product design specialist who failed to suggest any product design in the challenge. But then, THEN, Sir Alan said he was firing another member of Eclipse. Who would it be? Rory - the bumbling poshboy and ineffectual leader - or Trey - the most irritating, loudmouthed, insubordinate apprentice of them all? If Rory had defended himself by saying, "I spent so long arguing with this little twerp I couldn't focus on the task" he would have been saved, but instead he said "Erm...errr....Sir was er... horrible...erm", and the bigwig had no choice but to get rid of him. Or did he? Did Sir Alan keep on someone who will definitely get the boot later because the series thrives on the Sairas and Syeds who make the thing (un)watchable? I rather think the second. Trey is so annoying, so confrontational, so very punchable, he's what The Apprentice is all about.

Then I watched Deadline which held much promise. A bunch of celebs (if you can include Chris Parker and Imogen Lloyd-Webber in such a description) have to produce a 12 page celeb insert for 'Closer' each week, under the terrifying eye of Janet Street-Porter. Now I know JSP is responsible for the downfall of Snub TV in the 80s, one of the best things ever on British television, which she replaced with her boyfriend's derisory Normski's House Party, but it was a long time ago, and I do admire her strong will, intelligence and ginormous teeth. And I also appreciate Lisa I'Anson being dressed down by anyone because she's thick, superficial and arrogant, a particularly hateful combination in my book. She's also a starfucker. Every time a name came up, Naomi Campbell being the most notable instance, I'Anson would say in her affected drawl, "Oh, ya, Naomi, I know her, I'll give her a call". Yeah, right, you once got coked off your tits in The Metro and chewed her ear off about how great you both were more like it. Hilarious to see her trying to back track once it has slipped out her gob. One to watch.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Celebrity Wife Swap (1/4/07)

Exchanging Vanessa Feltz with Debbie McGee was obviously a stroke of genius for the Wife Swap team. Is there a man you would want less as a husband than Paul Daniels? And the programme bore out that he's the old, self-centred fart we know him to be; no surprises here. My favourite aspect of the programme was Feltz's partner, Ben Ofoedu. You know Ben Ofoedu? No? Well he sung, 'Got to turn aro-ooun-nnd' a few years ago, as he insisted on telling everyone and anyone who questioned his contribution to society. You'd have thought he'd figureheaded a cultural revolution the way he went on about it. At one point McGee pointed out "You're not Robbie Williams. I haven't even heard of you." "What?" he replied, almost dumbstruck but not enough to stop him from singing for the fifth time, "You haven't heard of 'Got to turn aro-ooun-nnd'?" Well, why should she? She's been stuck at home with Daniels and an alsation for the last twenty years. It just made you feel rather sorry for poor deluded Feltz who I quite like these days. Despite her lively intelligence, she's so blinded by graititude that she can't see Ofoedu for the no-mark he is.

Watched a good programme about haute couture on BBC2 late last night. Ever wondered what happens to those ridiculous dresses that we see on the catwalks? Well, I have. Turns out they get brought up by wives of very, very rich men or descendants of the aristocracy. Only about 200 women have access to them. A woman called a 'premiere' follows the dresses around the world to fit them on their new owners after the catwalk shows, removing the more theatrical elements to make them more wearable for philanthropic functions. What an incredible waste it all seemed, creating the carbon footprint of Goliath just for the sake of three or four dresses. But, my god, did I want to have a go in some of those clothes. Lucky bloody loaded cows. Anyone know of a spare oil tycoon?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Dr Who (31/3/07)

Sometimes I like to imagine I'm a time traveller. Especially when I realise three years have passed and I can't remember what happened during them. Perhaps I've been surfing the space-time continuum all the while with an alien cunningly disguised as Richard Hammond, saving the world from calamity and being dropped back in Blighty several years later. Or perhaps I've just been sitting about smoking weed and watching the tellybox. Who's to tell? (Not you).

People seem to have a problem with David Tennant as Dr Who - they don't appear to like his wide-eyed, gurning portrayal of a fictional national treasure. I think he's ok. In fact, I think the revival of Dr Who on BBC1 has been more than ok, at least 50% of the time it's been good, perhaps even better than the original (not counting the Baker or Davison years). It's certainly better produced, with better effects, good plots, and genuinely scary moments which, after all, define the series. And it's definitely one of the best things on TV on a Saturday evening.

I just hope with the return of the new series, the writers aren't tempted to try and make the Doctor all sexy with his new assistant, as they did with Who and Rose. It's surely not the point of Dr Who to get the horn, and if there is a sexy subtext, it shouldn't be accessible to the kids. In retrospect, one of the best things about watching Dr Who as a little girl was the complete lack of sexual tension. The tone of the programme made it possible to imagine that I could join the Doctor on his travels, and be perceived as his mate and an equal whilst doing so. In other words, that I could be just as adventurous and daring and valid as the boys. How liberating is that? - and what a missed opportunity not to send the same message to young girls today. They're not going to extract it from The Pussycat Dolls.

Another slight moan about the revival of Dr Who. Why do they keep on setting it in Cardiff or London or Stoke? The writers could take the story anywhere within our known galaxy, or the entire universe, and they won't even go to Prague. More creativity and scope in the narratives wouldn't go amiss. After all, I don't think anyone would really care or even notice if Cardiff disappeared into a hole in the fabric of space. I'm not entirely convinced it hasn't already.