All 14 entries tagged TV

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January 12, 2007

Goodbye Preston, and Good Riddance!

Preston This gormless individual (right) is Samuel Preston, lead singer of The Ordinary Boys (apt name). He went on Celebrity Big Brother last year, demonstrated a complete lack of personality and started bonking fellow contestant, Chantelle Houghton, who wasn’t actually a celebrity at all (much like Preston).

Since then he’s released a number of pisspoor records, culminating in the abysmal “I Luv U” which challenges Mr Blobby in the musical talent stakes.

Mr Talent was in the news this week for walking off a recording of Never Mind The Buzzcocks after host Simon Amstell started reading from his wife’s autobiography. In it she details just how exciting her life has been. I’ve not read it, but I’m sure it’s great for insomnia.

In an ironic twist, Mr Talent has branded Amstell a “snotty little posh boy”, which is hilarious simply because Preston lives in a large country pile, far removed from his faux-Cockney roots. He’s a direct descendant of Earl Grey (of the tea). He is also rather snotty.

He said Amstell’s career had plummeted since he presented Popworld. Patently untrue. Never Mind The Buzzcocks is a much bigger gig.

Preston, I hope that when you left the studio, you left television behind forever. You won’t be missed. And nor will your stupid wife.


January 08, 2007

Jack's Back. And he's brutal.

JackSince the demise of The West Wing, nothing on television gets me going more than Fox’s 24.

Its fifth season picked up the Emmy Award for Best Drama and Best Actor – an incredible achievement for an action-based show up against more ‘serious’ dramas.

But its sixth season is going to be serious, sensational and utterly spectacular. A whole week ahead of its U.S. premiere I’ve seen the first two episodes (my girlfriend will kill me) and this is 24 as we’ve never seen it before.

The storyline’s going to be heavily controversial (remember the outrage of the Muslim community during Season 2?) and the first two episodes are shockingly graphic at points – (check out the OH MY GOD moment 60 seconds from the end of Episode 1). If previous seasons were rated 15, this one’s definitely for the strong-stomached adult.

But the rollercoaster ride is about three times faster than anything we’ve seen before. We get to see acres of Los Angeles in under two hours and there’s surprising new residents in the White House.

Jack goes from zero to superhero in under ninety minutes, and by 9am, Jack is sure-as-hell back.

This is going to be the longest twenty weeks of my life.

EDIT: Oh my freaking word. The next two episodes take this to a whole new level.


January 05, 2007

Mears and Snow

I spent last night glued to BBC Two, which at last provided a night of TV worth watching (a rare event recently).

First up was Ray Mears’ Wild Food, in which the cameraman seemed to be having the time of his life. The Australian outback provided incredible scenery and the Aborigines who Ray was meeting filled their stage with ease.

There was a lot of deviation from the show’s purpose – i.e. food – but I didn’t care too much. It was the most beautifully shot programme since Planet Earth.

Dan and Peter SnowNext was a one-off featuring Peter Snow, his son Dan, and some shiny graphics that follow the former around like a loyal dog. It was ninety minutes of pure, unadulterated economics, wrapped up in the cotton wool of individual stories about how Britain’s changing economy is affecting the country. The Times said the graphics resembled something leftover from Torchwood, but I reckon it made the show so accessible that it ought to be shown to every secondary school pupil as part of careers advice.

And then there was Newsnight, which was a mixed bag. The report on healthcare in Sierra Leone was fascinating, but the story on food labelling looked like a boxing match where the two opponents had no interest in making any punches.

Thank god there’s an alternative to Z-List Big Brother.


January 03, 2007

I'm Desperate

I blog, or I watch Desperate Housewives. It’s a tough choice.

Just as this time of year is a sparse one for TV, it’s not great for political gossip either.

But with the Baftas and Oscars only a few months away, I can indulge another passion: films…

  1. Smokin’ Aces is out on January 12th and looks pretty cool from the trailer. Yes it’s got Ben Affleck in, but he’s made some good films hasn’t he? True, Good Will Hunting is the only one that springs to mind, but I reckon it’ll be OK. Not an Oscar hopeful though, but mindless fun.
  2. The Pursuit of Happyness and Blood Diamond are both out soon. Very different films, both very likely to win Oscars.
  3. Chris Cooper. Ryan Phillipe. Dennis Haysbert. Laura Linney. I smell a hit. Breach sees “aspiring FBI agent Eric O’Neill (Phillippe) handpicked by a senior agent (Cooper) to work alongside him, only to discover his mentor might be the country’s greatest security risk.” Ohhhhhhh yes.
  4. Sunshine sounds awful. “A team of eight astronauts is sent to re-ignite a part of the dying sun. Seven years ago, another crew was dispatched on the same mission, but they were never heard from again.” But… it’s directed by Danny “28 Days Later” Boyle and stars Cillian “28 Days Later” Murphy. Oh, and it’s written by Alex “28 Days Later” Garland. I’m not gonna promise it’ll be brilliant, but it might be.
  5. The Kingdom should be interesting. Out in April, it stars Jamie Foxx as an FBI agent sent to deal with the aftermath of a terror attack on US interest in the Middle East.
  6. Matthew Macfadyen (he of Spooks fame) gets a proper movie role in Death at a Funeral. There’s plenty of British talent in what appears to be a Hollywood film.
  7. 28 Weeks Later is the sequel to 28 Days Later, yet retains practically none of the cast, writers or director. They’re all doing Sunshine. Guess what? There’s a second outbreak about six months after the first one. Brilliant? I suspect not.
  8. Shrek The Third will keep the kids and adults happy in the Summer. Surely it’ll be brilliant? Ah. What’s that? They’ve cast Justin Timberlake in a lead role? I take that back.
  9. Watch out. The third Pirates of the Caribbean film is out in May. It will surely be as appalling as the second, which was the biggest waste of time I’ve experienced in a cinema.
  10. Oh. My. God. Die Hard 4 is out in the Summer. I have now wet myself.

December 23, 2006

The miserable world of Christmas TV

Why do we like depressing ourselves at Christmas? Millions will watch soap operas and dramas for a festive dose of death and destruction. And as if they’re not bad enough for the other 350 days of the year, those scriptwriters love to turn the tears up to 11 in late December.

Pauline. Dead.I’m reliably informed that Pauline cops it in EastEnders. Josh pops his clogs in Casualty. Some bloke goes the same way in Emmerdale (apparently).

Now I can understand why drama writers want to make the soaps more dramatic at Christmas. But why does that seem to mean the tears have to flow all the time? Doctor Who’s shown that you don’t need unhappy endings every week to keep people gripped.

I stopped watching The Bill a few years ago when the writers forgot that characters didn’t have to be shot/stabbed/murdered in order to be written out. This blood-thirst seems to have spread.

Maybe falling audience figures aren’t because of games consoles, the internet and Digital TV but because the most realistic drama on the box is set in a Tardis.


December 13, 2006

Ray to win X Factor!

Ray from The X Factor Yes, it’s true. I want that precocious, cocky, saccharine tw*t, Ray, to win The X Factor this weekend.

Only by letting such one-hit-wonders-in-waiting win these things will we eventually drive them into the ground. One day Simon Cowell will live in a two-bed semi in Staines because he made one crap TV show too many. And I predict that a win for Ray and his inevitable downfall in 2007 could finally kill the format.

A win for Leona would be thoroughly undeserving. She is far too good for this series, and it would be simply cruel to lumber her with the ‘honour’ of winning such a pile of shite.

SO VOTE RAY!


December 11, 2006

Televisual gastronomy

I’ve been enjoying Heston Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection, which has recently finished on BBC Two. In it, he perfects some classic dishes using his unique blend of cookery and science, but tries to make them relatively accessible to the home cook.

Take for instance his Black Forest Gateau, which requires chocolate spray paint and vacuum-packed chocolate bubbles. It’s highly impractical yet brilliant at the same time.

The most recent episode I watched – for I’m watching them out of order – was on fish and chips. Not only did he slave over the fish, but the batter itself required reinvention. Beer-battered cod might be well-known but he proved using science that you need to batter it in Vodka to get the mix right.

My only quibble with the series is that he sometimes makes things too accessible. I quite like the ridiculousness of the recipes. The deep-fried chicken for instance. Yes, it required a metal dustbin in a car park, but I was disappointed that Heston felt the need to apologise for the stupidity of it.

Surely his greatest quality as a chef is that he doesn’t give a sh*t how over-the-top it all is, just so long as it tastes great. He is the anti-Delia, and I love him for that.


December 05, 2006

Studio 60 Bounces Back

I wrote a few months ago about Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, the new drama from Aaron “West Wing” Sorkin, which has been struggling in the United States. It had potential, with a great cast and high production values. But deep inside was a cavernous hole where the plot should have been.

When I wrote it, it seemed the series was gonna get scrapped. The ever-reliable Fox News pretty much confirmed it. Thankfully they were wrong. It’s been picked up for a full 22-episode series.

So, last week (after Episode 10) I thought about writing another entry. That episode had been pretty good, West Wing-standard in fact. But I held off, just to be sure it wasn’t a blip.

It wasn’t a blip.

Episode 11 was shown last night, and it was fantastic. Events have forced them to make one character pregnant (cos the actress really is), and it’s sped up some of the emerging plotlines. There’s far less preaching, far more direction and much better sub-plots which aren’t just believable, but – crucially for a comedy-drama – funny too.

Last night’s was a Christmas episode, but skilfully avoided being saccharine, which is hard for anyone who works in U.S. television to manage. They’ve still got some moralising (the network is being taken to the FCC for allowing the word ‘fuck’ go out during a live report from Afghanistan), but it’s being much better done than a few weeks ago.

Here’s some comments from viewers:

The episode was great, and I don’t know what to do with myself. Quite unexpected.

I hope the show continues in this direction… The FCC thing, unfortunately, is pretty realistic.

What is this…I am so confused…a skit on the show that was actually FUNNY?!

If only they’d kicked off like this, they wouldn’t have lost half of their audience. But the future’s looking bright.


November 03, 2006

The shoddy production values State Within

What do you get if you put Doctors on in Primetime?

Answer: The State Within, the new serial drama on BBC One.

Now you might think I’ve gone barking mad, as the show had nothing to do with doctors and was indeed about a transatlantic conspiracy.

But what I mean is what happens when you put the daytime TV soap Doctors on in Primetime?

Because despite my high hopes for this show, it had more in common with a cheap British soap opera than the glossy American drama it aspired to be.

Principally, the direction was abysmal. Camera angles were predictable, static and so blindingly poor that you noticed them. That’s not supposed to happen. There were virtually no tracking shots, and as a viewer I felt like my eye-lids had been stuck together with glue because it was all so uninteresting to watch.

The script was unbelievable. A U.S. air marshal apparently goes up and down the plane telling people to turn off their laptops. Wrong. The governor of Virginia rounds up Muslims. Wrong. Two men start kissing despite showing no interest in each other beforehand. Wrong.

The editing was shite. There was one scene change that was so badly done you didn’t realise they’d moved to a different room! One minute the U.S. Secretary of Defense is giving a press conference, the next she’s addressing one man. What?!

Some of the actors, such as Jason Isaacs, did their best with the appalling material they were given.

But essentially this show was hackneyed tripe. If only they’d bothered to watch a few episodes of CSI, Prison Break or 24 they’d have realised how it’s done. Instead they seem to have tried to create an Americanised drama without actually checking it out first.

Eejits.


October 31, 2006

One hit does not equal a franchise

The past couple of months have shown that writing one incredible television show does not forever make you a television genius.

My case studies are the best show ever committed to television – The West Wing – and its poor imitation, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, which is facing imminent cancellation in the United States.

The West WingBoth are written by Aaron Sorkin, both are about the inside workings of a powerful empire, they share much of the cast and crew and are filmed on the very same acreage.

Yet Studio 60 has been a fairly colossal flop considering its production costs.

There are two reasons for this. One is that the premise didn’t work. Television executives aren’t sexy, no matter how hard you try to make them so. They are simply arrogant. Pretending they are high-minded, literate and well-versed in the classics does not make for good drama.

Studio 60And secondly, you cannot repeat the success of one television show simply by reusing the same scripts. All of the cliches from The West Wing (especially walking-and-talking) have been used to death in the first six episodes alone. When it’s in the halls of the most powerful building on earth, it’s forgivable. When it’s a television studio, it’s not.

Inevitably when the show is cancelled, Sorkin will claim it’s a victory for commerce over art. But it’s not.

As much as I want to love this show – the cast is brilliant and the dialogue pretty good – the drama is simply implausible.

I suspect Sorkin will decide not to go near network television for a good few years. But can I suggest to him a new subject matter that could be right up his street, and might just get people watching?

Journalists.

We’re an interesting lot, really!


October 17, 2006

*We're all making television now…

Iain Dale is worried that his new internet TV station, 18 Doughty Street is about to be regulated out of existence by the EU. Similarly, YouTube could have to make sure its videos comply with EU legislation as would anyone hoping to put videos online. The British government are against it, saying it would harm future online businesses hoping to put videos online, but few other European countries oppose it.

So what’s going on?
Well the EU is updating its Television Without Frontiers Directive which ensures that standards in television are the same across Europe. The European Commission wants to extend the definition of ‘television’ to include:

  • Broadband, Digital TV and 3G Networks
  • Video on demand
  • Peer-to-Peer video sharing
  • Internet TV

A wide definition would mean that almost any video delivered publicly on the internet would be “on demand” and therefore subject to EU legislation. But it’s important to note that the EU isn’t necessarily including a definition that wide.

But is there a need for any regulation in this area?
Well, not necessarily. The rules need tidying up because they were written in 1989 with only minor revisions in 1997, just when Digital TV was starting up. And there’s an argument that there should be some rules which protect people from videos on the internet of questionable content.

But should these rules be set by the EU?

No.

The internet has never been regulated thoroughly by governments and it seems pretty dangerous to start doing that. The EU’s argument is that a dangerous video which is banned in Britain can easily be uploaded in Slovakia and then viewed by anyone in the EU regardless.

But it can just as easily be hosted in the Bahamas! The EU’s regulation in this area is utterly pointless as there are so many ways to avoid it that it’ll be redundant in about five minutes flat.

Iain’s gone quite over-the-top in proposing we quit the EU (this seems to be being used as an excuse for doing so). Instead he should be listening to what Jose Manuel Barroso said last night: try and change things from the outside rather than lecture from the outside. Only as a full and committed member of the EU will we stop these daft pieces of legislation from being created.


September 13, 2006

Ho ho ho – brillant!!!

Eddie Izzard is to play a villain in the new series of 24.

That is all.

EDIT: Sorry, that’s not all. Apparently the 400th episode of The Simpsons will be a 24 special, featuring Jack and Chloe’s voices and a real-time plot.


July 08, 2006

Joe Cole leaving Chelsea!!!

Paparazzi photographs suggest that Joe Cole has decided to leave Chelsea – in fact football – behind for a new career. He's set to take on the Abramoviches of the world and give the Russian's money to poor people up and down the land. Here is the evidence:

Actually, it's not Joe Cole, it's Jonas Armstrong who's playing Robin Hood in a new BBC adaptation that's supposed to be very good (i.e. it's expensive and if it's not good, heads will roll).

But I prefer the idea that it's Joe Cole.


July 06, 2006

Deal or No Deal – The Backlash Begins…

You might be in the same situation as me. You watched Deal or No Deal (DOND) when it began and gradually watched it less and less as exams came around. You might also have watched a few shows since Uni finished. Well, are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Deal or No Deal, has in my opinion, tanked. It's over its peak and now it's just becoming daft. Just as Noel's dress sense has steadily declined as the show has gone on (seriously, it has!), the programme itself is becoming increasingly stale and is turning to more random characters to play the game, hoping that they will carry it through.

Today was a fine example. The programme became less about the money and more about the weird guy sat behind the box. He was walking all over Noel, and you didn't know if you were watching a game show, reality TV, an advert for "cosmic ordering" or just a plain farce.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire hit a similar plateau, where the format became tired from being shown night after night after night. We should have seen it coming, but DOND has definately hit the same problem. We all know what the banker's going to do before he does it, we all know how the ups and downs feel, and we all know that at the end of the programme we're going to come away from it thoroughly unsatisfied, much like going to McDonalds, eating everything in the restaurant and then feeling hungry ten minutes later.

I hope Channel 4 have a backup plan because if they're really relying on DOND to carry on giving them good ratings for the next 12–18 months, they're going to be disappointed. It's not Countdown, there's no brain exercise for the elderly and the students. It's just cheap, unfulfilling entertainment and I predict people are going to get bored of it very soon.

The backlash has begun.

===

As an aside, has anyone heard the rumour that (I think came from Noel), which goes that they're not televising it when people win £250k because they know the audience would stop watching then. Apparently it's been won three or four times, the money's been paid out to the winner, but then they've not broadcast it. If true, I wonder how many of the audience would stop watching as a result?


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