Friday, 20 February 2009

Television about television

A slight theme to today's post, after the last ragbag of stuff.

I watched Tne Money Programme last night. Well, I did and and I didn't. I watched a show recorded by my Tivo at 10:30pm, made by The Money Programme team, presented by Max Flint who does most TMP duties, with the iconic theme tune and titles, in the 7:30pm slot where TMP usually goes. But it was called Tomorrow's TV in the schedules, hence my DVR wouldn't have recorded it as you can't set a season pass for a one-off show. The fact it did was because I'm sad enough to go through the TV bits of the papers on a Sunday hunting out good content, and set it manually.

Blinkin' BBC types, thinking that the phrase 'money' will put off people from watching. Really? Nowadays? When money and finance is so in the news? And the target audience, up against EastEnders, isn't exactly a big one? Like me, they DO want to watch sensible serious programmes. And their DVRs are probably set to record EVERY Money Programme, yet they'll have missed this one.

The Beeb did this a while back, then reverted to calling the show by it's actual title so those of us with Sky+ or other DVRs can record it

And why was it on a Thursday too? It's usually on Fridays? And-

OK, I'll stop there. Check it out on iPlayer or here

It was good telly about telly - well made, great talking heads - as in proper experts and big names in the tv world - and a good analysis of why telly is in such a state. Seeing the Macedonian version of Millionaire was funny too (it's even sold to Iraq, 109 countries or something now), and the fact that 53% of ALL tv formats worldwide are originated in the UK. That made my Union Jack waistcoated-chest swell with patriotic pride.

But we're all deep in the shit; as someone said, the model for funding telly is the same as it ever was, yet 25% of all ad money has switched to the internet, leaving a big hole. Even though people watch more telly than ever.

Grrrrr, boo, hiss, come on Ofcom / the Government / someone - sort it out!

And, on the theme of telly about telly, my fave sitcom is back on air. And it's on Five.

It's 30 Rock and it's proper good funny boom-boom sitcom fare. No laugh track but still way better than almost any other sitcom on tv. It's set in NBC's HQ - 30 Rockerfeller Plaza, hence the title - and stars Tina Fey as the producer of The Girlie Show (I kid you not), a sketch show that doesn't seem that girlie at all, to be frank.

But it's hardly about telly at all, it's a simple workplace comedy about nutnuts who work together. Alec Baldwin is superb as the mad boss, and the show specialises in digs at NBC and GE, General Electric, who own the network. The Baldwin character is head of East Coast programming, comedy and microwave ovens, for example, and gets huffed when the latter is taken off him.

One day Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) comes into his office and the GE logo just has an E. Jack (Baldwin) says he's sold off the G. The first episode of season 2 has Jack using new technology to digitally insert Jerry Seinfeld into every NBC show, using old footage from, er, Seinfeld. But Jerry isn't best pleased - hence his guest-starring role in the ep...

I'll stop blethering and just say please watch it. Good on Five for buying it - even it's up to season 4 in the US and they're just starting season 2 here - and it's repeated in blocks on FiveUSA too, so no excuse for missing it. A sitcom with actual jokes, funny characters, a real 'sit' and some great performances. Kenneth the page is hilarious, Tracey Jordan (a man), the 'star' of the show less so but still funny, and the rest of the team (sad writers, nice guy who fancies Liz but she'll not touch him, great cameos and guest stars) perfect.


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