In celebration of stroppier TV characters…

Much television is anodyne, unimaginative and without redeeming characters or plots. Even those which are imaginative and intelligently put together are often morally dubious. Take Ally McBeal for one. This is an imaginatively made TV series which celebrates and indulges the lunacies and inadequacies of a thirty-something lawyer, when if the world were even the slightest bit sane, Ally would be ritually humiliated every week before being put into the army to sort herself out and the series would be renamed “Thing”.

It is for this reason that we celebrate those who identify ‘inappropriately’ – those who don’t think that Carol and Doug were always right and that actually Kerry should have slapped them around with her cane until they were a bloody pulp for being so self-importantly dramatic all the while (‘Oh my tortured romance’) rather than just getting on with the bloody job – those who wish Gunther would pull out an Uzi and pump hot metal death into those parasites who clog up his coffee bar – those who pine for the day when Mulder and Scully pop off for a shag, leaving the Lone Gunmen … Oh hang on a minute …

It is for this reason that I recommend you ignore Meg’s appeal to not go and do the Bridget Jones quiz. Because it has declared me The Anti Bridget – and cutting past the bullshit description [“You’re nothing like Bridget, but you’re very much like her bossy, happily engaged, real-estate-shopping officemate Perpetua – perpetually organized, perpetually on top of things, perpetually a pain in the arse.”] – I have declared myself Arch Nemesis of Jones The Hag. Schlurp your chianti while you still can, woman. We’re here to bitch-slap you from the face of the planet…


On The Top 100 British TV Programmes…

There’s a list of the top one hundred British TV programmes ever made over at the BFI’s site [bfi TV Top 100]. I just thought I’d comment on a few anomalies as I read through it.

  • 2) Cathy Come Home
    Never bloody heard of it.
  • 3) Doctor Who
    It’s art of course. Except for those periods when it really sucked. A lot. And it’s not a kids program. Sheesh.
  • 6) Blue Peter
    This list was clearly assembled by someone with too many nostalgic feelings, and frankly not enough memory. Insipid rubbish for children that has done nothing but poison the minds of the young into thinking wool sweaters are (or ever have been) fashionable.
  • 28) The Magic Roundabout
    The childrens’ television program most likely to encourage the use of hallucinogens in later life was supposedly made in France and then redubbed in English without the slightest idea of what the original story was. The film features a stoned rabbit called Dylan saying lines like “I’m just sitting here watching these crazy mushrooms grow”, and is very frightening.
  • 34) University Challenge
    A TV programme that only realised its true potential when Jeremy Paxman realised he could use it as an excuse to patronise and snipe at undergraduate students for their ignorance (despite having all the answers on little cards in front of him). A triumph.
  • 50) Father Ted
    The most fun you can have with an aging monosyllabic atavist, a half-witted child-man and a scheming embezzler – assuming they are all priests.
  • 89) A Very Peculiar Practice
    Any program with wild Nuns in it, scavenging out of bins and running across the wilds of 60s monolithic University Campuses is fine with me.
  • 97) Tellytubbies
    England once again proves that there’s something in the water, and that we want to give it to our kids as soon as is humanly possible.
Advertising Television

On Pottery Barn, Friends and Advertising…

Do you remember that episode of Friends where Rachel is obsessed by the Pottery Barn? Well when I first saw it I thought to myself – hmmm, what a strange premise for an episode. And because we don’t even have Pottery Barn in the UK, I don’t think it even occurred to me that it was a real shop. If it had, I think I might have raised an eyebrow or two. But one thing that would never have occurred to me is that Pottery Barn might have sponsored the whole episode. I can’t help thinking the whole thing is totally corrupt. I mean I’m used to TV shows having product placement and advertising and sponsorship, but I will not spend my life watching 22 minute long advertainments for huge multi-national companies. I swear to god – it’s my idea of hell…

Excerpt from Adbusters June/July 2000
FRIENDS FOR SALE: Now advertisers can turn sitcom plotlines into product promotions. The Pottery Barn bought an episode of Friends and the right to have Rachel, Ross and the gang spend their 22 minutes of airtime surrounded by Barn decor.

It has always been implicit in television that the programs are just delivery vehicles for the advertising. But that equation got a whole lot more explicit in February, when the production company Basic Entertainment – the money behind such shows as Politically Incorrect and critical darling The Sopranos – agreed to partner up with the world’s second-largest advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson. The two promptly produced a love-child: the agency’s new “content/entertainment” arm, called (c)JWT.

The rationale behind it all: When the ad is the show, it becomes impossible for viewers to mute it, ignore it, or actively miss it whilst getting snacks.


Vile Stick-Insect Ally McBeal…

Today’s briefing is brought to you through the tremendous power of absolute and total denial. The day has been filled with all the activities that help me distract myself from bad stuff around me. These include: Chocolate, Random Sex, Music, Daydreaming and The Gym. I am now going to finish the day off with a considerable bout of Pimms drinking outside in the sun.

Which brings me to that appalling harpy Ally McBeal and the stick insect that plays her. You can decide for yourself which of the two I find most reprehensible – but let’s just say the actress plays ‘whining drivel-monger’ with such consummate skill that I can only assume that she was born for the role. And I won’t even get started on the whole “this is just a piece of right wing propoganda disguised as a women’s issues program” speech that I normally give at these points, because everyone always looks at me funny when I rant, and I’m frankly getting bored of it.

Anyway – back to the point. On this, the hottest day of the year in the UK, with the most glorious sunshine and the most ridiculous (if pleasant) proliferation of half naked people, I have to read the that the insane Calista (SUBLIMINAL MESSAGE: eat more pies woman!) has declared that, “England makes me stink because it rains all the time“.

I doubt the link will stay valid for long, so I quote in full the article in question:

Calista Flockhart: “Britain Makes Me Stink”

Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart doesn’t like visiting Britain because the rainy weather leaves her smelling like a wet dog. The waif-like actress discovered the uncomfortable truth when stranded in a storm on a recent trip to London. She told talk show host David Letterman that although she liked London, the weather put a real damper on things. She said, “It was great but it rained every day that I was there.” When Letterman asked, “It’s supposed to rain in London, was it misty and romantic?”, Flockhart replied, “It was cold and damp. Do you know what happens in London when it rains? You start to smell. It’s true – you start to smell like a wet dog because what happens is you go out and you’re all happy because you’re in London, then it rains. And you don’t have an umbrella, because I’m an American, so then it’s sunny but you’re wet and you smell.”