All 48 entries tagged Television

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June 11, 2007

I'm a Journalist, Get Me Out of Here!!!

A reality TV show in the States is to give a swimwear model a job as a TV journalist and see how she gets on. She’ll start by anchoring the main news bulletin tonight.

[Insert predictable joke about Natasha Kaplinsky]

Locals are up in arms about the affront to their local broadcaster’s integrity. But then this is a news station that apparently has “Stormy the Weather Dog” every day. I think the integrity boat has set sail.

Perhaps the show will reveal how hard it is to be a journalist. I might even give it the benefit of the doubt if it was a British show. But I’ve seen loads of American TV shows before. They’re going to make the locals look stupid, the job look easy, and the swimwear model look like Ed Murrow.

But if you’ve seen local TV news in the States before, you’ll realise that not even a bikini-clad model can dumb down the news.

Only some people will find this funny, but the model’s name is Lauren Jones. I kid you not.


May 26, 2007

A Tale of Two TV Shows

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

Twelve months ago, I would have told you 24 was the most rewarding TV show that I watched and that Lost was the most frustrating.

Twelve months on, I’d have got it all the wrong way round.

Both series finished their sixth and third seasons respectively this week, and while 24 was annoying, predictable, dull and just awful, Lost was absolutely flipping amazing.

In 24, having had a double Emmy-award winning second season, we were thrown a sort of ‘greatest hits’ series full of rehashed plots from previous ‘days’ in the life of Jack Bauer. Nukes, kidnappings, White House conspiracies and foreign embassy shootouts. All done before, and all done again. It was poor, and the finale did nothing to redeem this season. A pathetic ‘shock twist’ involving a much-loved character was so predictable I nearly fell asleep.

But Lost was sublime. The producers of the show had referred to a “snake in the mailbox” which would bite us when we put our hand in the last episode. And bloody hell, did it do that. Serious spoilers now… The series’ flashbacks have been an integral part of the show, and the non-linear plot has made the show special. So how about a forward-flash? The final scene took us (according to the internet, three years) forward in time, to a meeting between two of the show’s main characters. They’ve made it off the island. But they’re not both happy. One has gone into a major psychological slide, and wants to go back to the island. Not everyone made it off the island. And one of the characters has just got into a coffin. Oh, and did I forget to mention that back in ‘normal time’, they think they’re about to get rescued from the island they crash-landed on? Except they’re not, and it’s a trap.

And then the season ends.

Every time the show gives us an answer, it throws up a billion more questions. And it’s brilliant. There’s only going to be 48 more episodes. And I can’t believe they’ll be anything other than amazing. If you’ve not got into the show yet, you need a box-set or three.


May 13, 2007

Did you get the joke?

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krisse_Salminen

Eurovision. Did you get the in-joke? Because I didn’t.

But the blonde girl who kept sticking her ore in throughout the evening was – apparently – a spoof. Krisse Salminen is a Finnish stand-up whose routine is to prance around like a cross between Miss Piggy and Paris Hilton.

Unfortunately, Finnish comedy doesn’t seem to travel very well, and no-one seems to have realised she was a joke.

Perhaps they should have tried Borat.


Eurononsense

The winning entryOh dear. It gets more ridiculous every year. I swear Yugoslavia keeps dividing like an amoeba just to secure a win every couple of years. The Serbia / Montenegro love-in was particularly daft.

The Eurovision Song Contest is hardly the pinnacle of European musical talent (if it was, it’d be dominated by Brits and Yanks, and if you don’t believe me, check out the charts), but the competition seems to laugh in the face of ‘music’ even harder than it ever has.

Musically, I thought the Georgian Matrix Reloaded-style rave-up song was pretty good, although Mrs Doubtfire’s Ukrainian entry was also mildly entertaining. I thought they had it sown up, to be honest.

Scooch. Crap.The Eurovision party I went to (my first, and perhaps last) did seem to degenerate into a ‘hot or not’ contest, involving the entrants as well as the Fearne Cotton-type voting people around Europe. Iceland didn’t let us down, it was decided, although Sweden went with a man, much to the disappointment of the boys. The girls were just as bad though – if a bloke showed a bit of thigh they were panting and sweating.

We came second-last only to Ireland, and that was entirely thanks to the bias of Ireland themselves (shooting themselves in the foot yet again) and the Maltese. We may as well give the Isle of Wight a vote…


May 11, 2007

Worth sharing

In my last blog entry, I pondered whether Britain really is the best nation in the world. But then I saw this, and remembered: “Who cares? We’ve got the best sarcasm in the UNIVERSE!!! And that’s all that really matters.”


April 11, 2007

Strangled at Birth?

Are you an insomniac, unemployed sports fan? Good! Because there’s a new TV show that seems to be just for you!

BBC News has for months been working on a sports news show, now called Inside Sport. It’s probably going to be a little bit like a UK-focused Trans World Sport, and it sounds great.

Except the schedulers have stuck it precisely where no-one’s going to watch it: Monday, 11pm.

Probably the least exciting night of the week when it comes to sport, and after the weekend newspapers have come out with their beefy sports sections. Not to mention it’s ludicrously late for a weeknight. What’s wrong with 10.35pm, straight after the news? Or at 10pm on BBC Two?

There’ll be a daytime repeat, but that’s six days later, on Sunday morning. When, er… people are still in bed. You’d think they don’t want anyone to watch it.

P.S. Irony note: Mihir Bose left his Telegraph column to become BBC Sports Editor. His column’s name? ‘Inside Sports’.


March 30, 2007

Listen up viewer – we don't care about you

Two bits of news out this morning, both of which suggest the TV viewer is low down the list of priorities when it comes to deciding what to put on the box.

Firstly, the FA look set to award the rights to the FA Cup and England home games to ITV and Setanta. This despite the fact that the BBC’s coverage has been credited with making the Cup exciting again after several years of rubbish. Would ITV have to show the lower-league cup ties that the Beeb have loyally provided over the past few years? And if they’re paying so much more (£400m+) will they have any money left to make the coverage half-decent? The deal leaves the BBC with no live football outside of the Euro 2008 and the next World Cup, which with their range of talent must be pretty annoying. Gabby Logan – who moved from ITV recently – must be kicking herself.

Secondly, the BBC are mulling plans to show EastEnders five nights a week. I don’t think they understand why people have stopped watching the show over the years (it used to get around 16m people regularly, now it gets about half that). People stopped watching because it’s too big a commitment. Ask viewers what they really want and they’d probably ask for fewer episodes of higher quality. Even the show’s producers are against it, but the Beeb want to squeeze some more milk from the ratings cow. Laughably they’re undertaking a “feasibility test to assess the impact on the production schedule”, but don’t appear to be researching what the viewer actually wants.

Media 2, Viewer 0.


March 26, 2007

Don't work with children or animals… or politicians.

Phew… They say you shouldn’t work with kids or animals in television, but I’d recommend avoiding politicians too. It’s not that they run around uncontrollably or piss on the studio floor, but they’re a bit of a chain around your neck. What would have been a fairly flexible deadline is suddenly made precise by having a few demanding egos in the room.

We’ve been recording a Question Time programme with participants from Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems and Plaid, and things started going badly when the Labour person pulled out about six hours before filming. Three hours of phoning later and we had a stand-in.

We were running predictably late, and started filming at the last possible moment. One candidate was having a nervous relationship with their wrist-watch. As soon as we were done with filming the main take, they got up, even though we needed them to sit and film a couple of inserts. Nope, not gonna happen, it seems. Politician has somewhere else to be.

Later it turned out that they could just about hear our talkback system, meaning anything I was saying in the gallery was getting through to them. Er… right. That’s the presenter’s prompts? The questions being read in advance? The lines of attack? And presumably it included the derogatory comments from the gallery as well then?

Live telly. Pain. In. The. Arse.


March 22, 2007

An Embarrassment of Riches

The Riches

Take a troubled family of Irish travellers, kill two innocent rich people, and you’ve got a TV show that looks like being the intelligent Desperate Housewives, but with more endearing characters and greater potential for plot development.

The Riches is a new show on the U.S. network FX, and stars Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard – who also acts as Exec Producer and writer on the show. The two Brits may not seem the obvious choice for their roles – nor indeed the perfect on-screen couple – but from the evidence of the pilot, they really work.

The story begins with Izzard and three children travelling to pick up Driver, mum of the ‘household’, from prison, where she’s been doing two years for crimes yet to be revealed. Inside she’s picked up some atrocious braided hair and a nasty drug habit. And they’ve been running the family business, which might be described as “back-pocket cash repository retrieval”.

They travel back to their community where the self-appointed ‘leader’ of the clan wants Izzard’s daughter to marry his son and Izzard to be his bitch. It’s a neat way of forcing the family out of the community and out onto the road. Izzard steals the community’s cash and a chase – of sorts – ensues. This results in a car accident that has far-reaching consequences for the family, who for reasons that become obvious near the end of the episode, become The Riches.

Izzard is, thankfully, brilliant, and the show feels very much his own. His contribution to the writing of the show helps, as he inserts dollops of the comic insanity present in his stand-up shows. Driver, too, is a far more mature actress than the annoying, stiff Brit she was in Good Will Hunting.

I forced two of my housemates to watch the first episode with me, and after their initial reluctance they were won over by its “unpredictability” and “convincing performances”. Izzard’s accent slips occasionally, although from a Brit’s perspective this doesn’t bother me very much.

There’s real potential for this to be a great TV show. I hope the series can live up to its witty and warm pilot.


March 20, 2007

Am I getting myself a reputation?

From: XXXXXXX@XXX.com
To: chris@chrisd01dge.co.uk
Subject: TV Development

Hi there! I’m making a documentary about complaining for TV…I’m currently looking for a range of different complainers. I started browsing through some weblogs to see if I could find someone interesting, who might have some issues they’d like to get of their chest, and thought I’d drop you a quick line. I’m not sure if you consider your self a complainer, but it looks like you’ve got a lot of opinions on various issues, and I’d really like to hear more about what interests you and what issues you tend to complain about.

It seems I’ve been noted for my tendency to complain about things. Anyone who knows me will, of course, be able to refute this accusation much better than I can…

[Watches comments fill up with everything but…]

I’ve edited the e-mail to leave out the commercially sensitive stuff, but you get the gist of it. Let’s just say we’re not exactly talking UKStyle2 here.


March 10, 2007

Tinkering with the television

I’ve just joined a new Facebook group. It’s called ‘I Hate BBC Wales’. True, this is the organisation that brings you Doctor Who, and for that we should be grateful. Their news isn’t too bad either, even if it suffers from the tedious banter associated with all local news programmes.

But what winds me up – and considering the existence of a Facebook group, it seems to annoy others too – is the constant tinkering with the schedules on BBC Television. You sit down to watch Top Gear on a Sunday evening and they’ve replaced it with the Welsh Open snooker. Even though there’s no-one Welsh in it and eight million people watch Top Gear (presumably some of them in Wales). You try and watch the first round of University Challenge, but you can’t because in their infinite wisdom, BBC Wales have decided not to broadcast it. Are the questions too hard for Welsh people or something? I think not.

Then there’s the sport. Whenever there’s an FA Cup match on a Saturday evening, BBC Wales ignores the pre-match build-up and cuts across (mid-sentence) to what people in England are watching seconds before kick-off. For anyone wanting to know anything about the game, it’s useless.

By far the worst example of this spectrum abuse is the torrent of programmes about ‘Welshness’. Instead of University Challenge you get a biography of a Welsh bloke you’ve never heard of, in which you learn how Welsh he is. Or perhaps, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a programme in which Huw Edwards goes to London and … wait for it … tells you how Welsh it is! I kid you not, this last show was stretched over a whole series.

This would be fine if it was occasional. But with the exception of the snooker, I can’t think of a programme that BBC Wales has crammed in the schedule that wasn’t a documentary about Welshness. It seems the place is run by Plaid Cymru!

Imagine the uproar if BBC Two featured nightly programmes about the exceptionalism of the English!


March 07, 2007

Dodgy phone–ins are more widespread than you think

Q. Name an item typically found in a woman’s handbag?
A. Rawl plugs, a balaclava and a rubber band!

This is the public face of the dodgy phone-in competition. You pay £1 per call and get to beat your head against a wall while attempting to win £50 or the £50,000 jackpot! The jackpot will probably be won if your birthday happens to be February 29th.

But the scam of dodgy phone-ins and competitions goes much further than recent revelations have suggested. Daily, radio stations are hosting competitions where the winner’s already been decided. Phone-ins that have been recorded the previous week. And contributors who are little more than actors.

Proof is hard to come by, and relies on anecdotes of people who have won competitions weeks before they were broadcast – and weeks before people were asked to call in and ‘play’.

It’s just as prevalent at the BBC as in the commercial world, even though they can’t make money from phone lines. Well-known radio shows use fake guests, play competitions that were won the week before and make ‘real-life’ features which are completely faked. Shows are often pre-recorded, yet they’ll still ask for your e-mails and then read out manufactured ones.

I can’t prove this, and it seems no-one else can either. The contempt of producers towards their audience will continue, and only an industry ‘supergrass’ will ever be able to do anything about it.

But when you get asked to phone in to a radio or TV show, ask yourself first whether you trust the people making the programme. Because worryingly often, you shouldn’t.


February 18, 2007

I Hate the Welsh…

...TV Schedulers.

I’m settling down, eagerly awaiting tonight’s Top Gear. It’s the best thing on television in Britain.

BUT IT’S NOT FRICKING ON!!!

BBC Wales, in their infinite wisdom, have replaced it with sodding snooker. It’s not on until 10pm. It’s a Sunday night. I quite fancied an early one. I also wanted to watch the show that’s on afterwards. And they’ve gone and buggered up my evening. And my housemates’ evening. Top Gear is the only thing we all watch.

SO THANKYOU BBC WALES, YOU STUPID IDIOTS. THERE’S A RED BUTTON ON THE REMOTE CONTROL. IT’S THERE FOR A REASON.

And you thought I was going to write some general slur against the Welsh people.

EDIT: It’s getting silly. It’s 10.40pm, Top Gear’s supposed to be on by now, and we’re being treated to A RUDDY GREAT BIG END-CREDITS SEQUENCE!!!! I HATE YOU, BBC WALES.


February 11, 2007

A Bafta Nominee

I’d like to nominate Ricky Gervais as the host of next year’s Bafta awards.

He’s made three jokes. They all got huge laughs.

That’s three more than this year’s host, Jonathan Ross.

Who is probably more expensive, and appalling value for money.


February 08, 2007

Sky wave the white flag at the Beeb

Listen…

That’s the sound of the retreat.

Sky are to pull Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three from the Freeview platform in order to use the space for pay-per-view football and films.

I’m not personally worried by the loss of the latter two, but the absence of Sky News from Freeview is bad news all round.

The channel’s been on the slide ever since its expensive revamp in 2005, culminating in the loss of the channel’s boss, Nick Pollard. BBC News 24 has pulled ahead in the ratings, largely thanks to cross-promotion from BBC One and the increased number of recognisable ‘faces’ on the channel, such as Huw Edwards and Ben Brown.

But the news that Sky News is to retreat from such a popular platform (almost certainly losing a large percentage of its viewers) suggests Sky has little faith in the future of their news operation. The latest figures from BARB suggest 9% of the population see a bit of Sky News every week – but only being available on Sky and Cable will probably reduce this substantially.

Sky News also has incredibly low advertising rates – they’re not exactly rolling in cash, even if the channel’s a bit of a loss-leader for the Sky brand.

But it’s not just bad news for Sky. The demise of the ITV News Channel in 2005 was bad enough, as it was just becoming half-decent when it was killed off. But soon there will be little competition for BBC News 24. And not even the most ardent of BBC fans want to see an end to the rivalry between the two.

It’s not good for journalists, and it’s not good for viewers.


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