Thursday, 27 December 2007

Guest Setting Five: Rum, Humbug and Mind Numbing Tedium, But No Graphs

Hello, and a merry post-Christmas to you. We're hoping you got what you wanted. What did we get? Bored, drunk, loud, ill, a headache, an argument and then drunk again, in chronological order. Oh, and a sat nav. We counted at least three other people on our street wandering around "away from tall building and trees" like an idiot trying to "acquire" a satellite on Christmas morning.

We've only just got around to catching up with our Christmas telly. Doctor Who was predictably good, as was the first of two Still Game specials (which is on BBC Two 'proper' on Friday night). We haven't got around to TV Burp yet. Extras had changed the bits we'd expected them to, even replacing the really poor Sigourney Weaver joke that didn't stand up to scrutiny with a really poor joke about Victoria Wood instead, but was otherwise really good. However, so far there hasn't been much else to grab the imagination. A QI clip show? It's a panel show! It only costs about 7p to make! Just make a new episode! Or at least run the Christmas episode you broadcast a week too early again!

Luckily Derek Williams, off of the Free Market Economy bit of Resonance FM's marvellous One Life Left gaming show (which readers clever enough not to live in London can obtain via iTunes), is prepared to go mediaeval on Christmas telly's 'ass' on our behalf, which means we can sit back, pick the ones we like out of the Quality Street tin, and watch Robbie The Reindeer on Sky+.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Derek had been planning to record his piece as a spoken word track over a backdrop of nicely lo-fi electronica (in the style of his One Life Left segments), thereby providing BrokenTV with it's very first 'pod' 'cast'. Annoyingly, technology has conspired against him, so you'll just have to hum a pleasing instrumental tune in your head as you read the text below. We've used a loop of the intro for The Rah Band's "Clouds Across The Moon" for our mental audio bedding, but you're free to choose your own.]

[ANOTHER EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to the nature of his piece, it might be fun to imagine Derek's piece being read out by the "Point/Counterpoint" bloke from Airplane!, the one who says "I say, let 'em crash!". He doesn't actually sound like the "Point/Counterpoint" bloke from Airplane! in real life, but we've thought of the reference now, and we're damned if we're not going to use it.]
"Hello, I'm a regular contributor to One Life Left. This is Europe's only video games Radio show and is broadcast every Tuesday at 9pm in London on Resonance 104.4 FM. And on the internet too. I've been recruited by BrokenTV to talk about Christmas television despite normally talking about selling video games.

TV at Christmas has never been a big thing for me, it has to be said. I'm usually doing other things than watching some inane mass appeal Christmas programming. Most of the time as child it's been playing with my toys. As I've got older, things haven't really changed that much. The toys have been a little bit different, mainly in the form of video games. Though I've always had to find somewhere to run off and hide whilst the mind numbing tedium of the queen's speech is on. Like she really cares in the slightest about delivering a message to us commoners. I doubt she even sees much of it before the filming. Now do I feel somehow betrayed that the queen's speech would be pre recorded? With it being broadcast on YouTube at the same time as it flies through the airwaves to our tellyboxes. We're paying the daft old bint enough money so she could at least perform live.

Probably the worst thing about Christmas schedules is that all your favourite American TV programs get taken off for a month or so in their native country resulting in an irritatingly long wait for the next episode of House. Though perhaps that's not as bad as when they take programs off for no reason mid run and just play "catch up" episodes. But that's another story.

The Doctor Who Christmas story will hopefully be better than the rather poor series that was on this year. I was rather annoyed earlier when the trailer gave away several plot details that would have made a nice reveal in the actual show. Thanks, the BBC. Sorry I've been terribly bah humbug about Christmas TV haven't I? I'll try and make one positive comment about it. Yes. At least it's not new years eve programming. I'm Derek Williams and this is not a Free Market Economy."
For the record, impressive scheduling on the part of Sky's Movie channels allowed BrokenTV's Mark X the chance to spend 3pm on Christmas Day watching Mr Bridger telling Keats of his displeasure that "some of that young mob in E Block don't stand for the National Anthem", instead of watching the Queen's speech with the rest of the X family. Which he duly did. Victory is his!

As pointed out by our guest commentator above, American television basically packs up and starts queueing for the WalMart sale instead of putting much effort into it's festive programming, as this story from Reuters confirms. The largest audience of the big day was picked up by a Deal Or No Deal special (two hours!), with a mere 9.8 million viewers from the potential audience of 300 million. The third place show, "48 Hours Mystery" on CBS attracted a mere 4.2 million pairs of eyeballs (assuming all viewers had their full compliment of optic orbs, which is statistically unlikely). In comparison, the top shows in the UK (EastEnders, Doctor Who and EastEnders again) gathered 13.9m, 12.2m and 11.6m respectively.

There are loads of graphs we could generate out of the above, but we'd made a pact not to, so instead we're going to offer up three facts about The Italian Job that we'd been unaware of until we'd flipped to Wikipedia in order to check we were spelling Mr Bridger's name correctly.

ONE. A resolution to the end of film cliffhanger had actually been prepared, with a sequel in mind. Sadly it wasn't as Harry Hill had supposed, so there were no pizzas topped with firemen in sight. Instead, the coach was to be rescued by helicopters. Helicopters owned by the Mafia. The sequel was to deal with the gang trying to reclaim the gold from the Mafia.

TWO. Excellently, the bus used in the pivotal scenes was converted back to a normal bus after filming, and saw out its days as a school bus in Scotland, right up until the 1980s.

THREE. The film was promoted in the USA using the promotional poster just to the right here. Click to embiggen.This clearly had absolutely nothing to do with the actual film, looking more like a whimsical comedy version of Prison Break, if anything. As a result, the USA had to wait 34 years and then bung Mark Wahlberg at it before it'd give good box office over there. Tsk.

[EDITOR'S NOTE THREE: As you'll have noted, we've altered the template of the blog, but we're still not happy with it. Especially the way quoted text is put in italics. Expect it to change again really soon. Maybe so the blog will actually appear properly in Internet Explorer, except we're not really that bothered because we use Firefox. Hopefully we can make it so there's a 'next page' or 'earlier entries' link at the bottom of the page, like on a proper blog. Anyone able to point us towards one of those?]

[EDITOR'S NOTE FOUR: And while we're here... a current Film4 advert displays a listing of several films, along with snippets of trailers for said films. The 'small print' at the bottom of the screen proclaims "Films available may vary". Given the slogan of the advert, "Great films you know, great films you don't", the disclaimer "films you know may vary" would be much more suitable, not to mention more interesting. Which is why we should be consulted on ALL ADVERTISING EVER, but there you go.]

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