Tuesday, 29 July 2008

TV that s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s itself out

Did anyone see Dispatches last night? It featured an earth-shattering exclusive:

Pre-packaged sandwiches can be bad for you!

Big posh sandwiches full of cheese and meat can have a lot of fat in them!

Some factories that prepare these sandwiches aren't that clean or nice!

I actually sat through the full hour of this show, with Mr Third String C4 News presenter striding around shopping centres and looking at pigs' hooves in a bin and turning his nose up. God it went on. A mate said it was one minute of actual information strung out over an hour. Too bloody right.

I've been railing against Pret and Eat for not putting any info on their sandwiches, saying that because they're made fresh on the premises they can't exactly tell what's in each one. What tosh. I've eaten sarnies from at least fifteen different Prets and they're all the same. So what if it's +/- 10% - at least there's a guide. You can check on their website but that's not particularly practical when you're in a sandwich shop. Although I've got an iPhone so perhaps...

Well, anyway, the trouble with this show is all down to C4 trying to be good. A full hour of current affairs every Monday, that's half an hour more than poor old wee half-hour Panorama. Look, Ofcom, we're super-nice and public-spirited! Ignore the hour of Big Brother on after, we have a 50 minute news bulletin then a small documentary thing made by a tiny company about something quirky then an HOUR of hard-hitting factual programming.

But it's not. It's padded as much as David Walliams dressed up as a fat lady in Little Britain. It'd been far better as a half-hour. You would've lost nothing apart from Alex Thompson (yes I've remembered his name) hassling innocent sandwich eaters outside Subway.

The one thing I got from it was that Boots are quite good - fairly healthy and clearly labelled. I went there this morning and bought a salad. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, being influenced by the television and all that, but there you go. A programme I'm berating Changed My Life.

I'm nothing if not complex, am I not?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Better late than never...

OK, I was away when the finale of Doctor Who was on. Also my Tivo froze and didn't record it, meaning it had to be reset. This took three full days, one of which was poor old Teevs sorting through hundreds of channels using computer tehcnology from 1987 no doubt.

But when the little Tivo cartoon man did his warm up run and swung into the corner of my screen I shed a tear. Sniff. It would've been Sky+ otherwise, even though I only have one satellite socket and therefore it wouldn't work properly.

Techie issues aside, I managed to record it again on Sunday, thanks to the BBC running out of money and rescreening it/deciding to treat viewers who had malfunctioning PVRs to a welcome encore screening (DELETE AS APPLICABLE)

My main thought was that if, in the last ten minutes, a massed army of walking kitchen sinks stomped in I wouldn't have batted an eyelid. Russell T Lady threw everything else into it. Mickey! Rose's mum! K9! That kid off of Sarah Jane again! After the first part when Harriet Jones, Former PM turned up too.. as well as Dempsey out of Dempsey and Makepiece... if Servalan out of Blake's Seven came in riding on Jabba the Hut it wouldn't have surprised me in the slightest.

A load of old hokum, to be sure - shaky story, two Doctors (one with a slightly worse suit and somewhat less terrific hair), Donna having some of the Doctor in her (steady!), Captain Jack hamming away mercilessly (well, the 5% of his face that haven't been Botox'd into maskness), plot holes totally ignored (that Dalek squishy starfish thing saying "one of the Doctor's family will die" - er, will they?), and a fairly shitty ending with poor Donna becoming a simpleton again ("but she's better wif' you" sniffed grandad Bernard Cribbins as Real-Doctor-Fab-Hair looked on blankly) and Rose having to settle for the alternative world and Fake-Doctor-Merely-Lovely-Hair... a bit poor to be frank.

On the other hand...

Fantastic, incredible music. Special effects that were simultaneously great yet blended in perfectly. For God's sake - K9!!!!!1!111!!! Jokes. Utter Britishness, through-and-through. Totally gripping from start to finish, tv drama at top pitch. I bloody LOVED it.

The thing is Who is ALWAYS a load of old hokum. A man travelling in time in a police box? Yeah right... Regenerating every so often when the lead actor leaves or dies? Very convenient for the producers, ain't it? Sonic screwdriver? Don't make me larf. The Face of Bo? Please....

None of this matters. It's just rollocking good fun. As said before, best show on telly full stop. I'm normally not a big fan of the end-of-series ones but this was a cracker - as the ratings and audience appreciation figures reflect.

Well done Russell T. Now go off and write something as groundbreaking as new Who or Queer As Folk or Bob and Rose or the one with Ecclestone being Jesus II: The Sequel. You can do it Russie boy! We're counting on you...

And back in Wholand, we've Cybermen at Xmas to look forward to. The hairdressers in Cardiff must be stocking up on Mr Tennant's hair gee as we speak. He does have the most stunning hair though, doesn't he? A tribute to the Hair Product Industry of this fine nation.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Holiday tv musings

OK, apologies for the gap in postings - yeah, I've been away. Italy and Spain, very nice ta for asking.

I managed to miss all the six-hour variety shows with ladies in bikinis singing songs to fat moustachio'd men in white suits this time. Sky News seems to have spread everywhere, complete with a hardly-ever updated text list of stories where the UK ads go. CNN is there, as ever.. they've now got ads to replace the "CNN is shown at these fine hotels" captions they used to run.

But a few English language entertainment channels were being shown in Spain. Fox was one, otherwise known as FX here - complete with original soundtrack US voices but Spanish-voiced ads and trailers. So I got to see some eps of Family Guy and those fair-but-strong-district-attorney-against-crooked-local-mayor shows that fill up the endless hours on that channel.

Even more interestingly (well, to a tv anorak like me) they subtitled the songs in Family Guy but nothing else. I assume cable operators stick on a different audio track on the voices but not over the songs. Indeed some shows I've made for kids have been translated in a similar way, despite the target audience being mainly unable to read. Simple really - redubbing voices = cheap, re-signing songs = ooh costly.

From what I could make out via my fairly useless language skills (ie not much in Italy, a bit in Spain), their tv news was labelling the G8 summit as a triumph for Gordon Brown. Err, probably. He was in it a lot and the words 'triomphe', 'Zimbabwe' and 'climatic controllio' were used over pics of our socially inept leader. And, um, it said people thought that in a paper I read on the plane back.

All the news I saw was being presented by Carla Bruni-style gorgeous-but-strict looking ladies in immaculate short-skirted-posh-jacketed outfits. In Italy she was made to stand up and lean against a high round table, like out of a pub with no stools left. There was a distinct lack of "LIVE!" whooshes or CG graphics, which made me sad, but the occasional featurey piece with sad tinkley music over footage of old ladies in black weeping. I have no idea what made them cry, save it wasn't the lack of sound effects or cartoon reconstructions on their evening news.

But my favourite bit of foreign telly was watching the same European hospital drama in two different countries and realising it was either (a) not Italian; (b) not Spanish, or (c) not the product of any one country, as the words didn't fit the lips in either nation.