Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Things We've Noticed When Watching Recorded Late-Night Repeats Of Flight Of The Concords On BBC Four

You might expect the person doing the sign language would by fairly redundant in a comedy show based largely on comedy songs. You'd be wrong, though. The sign language peeps get to throw some funky shapes during the musical numbers. We bet they're having a shitload more fun then when they've got to sign Trawlermen or Chinese Food Made Easy. It's way better than when we accidentally stumble into the signed hours of Sky Sports News at 3am on a Sunday morning, which we always find inexplicably disturbing. We have no idea why this latter situtation is the case, although that's possibly something to do with what we'd drunk in the preceding six hours.

Also, this: we'd forgotten how bloody marvellous the Concords pastiche of the West End Girls video in episode two was. Brilliant. "No-one cares, no-one sympathises. You just stay home and play synthesisers."

Things We've Noticed When Taking Screen Caps Of Recorded Late-Night Repeats Of Flight Of The Concords On BBC Four: When you try to get an image of the sign language signer doing a funky dance, it just looks like something in sign language. Hope it isn't rude. We've seen that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hey, if that episode ("The Rat Dog") is ever shown on More4 as a signed repeat, will the universe implode on itself?

A BrokenTV Appeal: In case any Sign Language Artistes (we have no idea what the correct term is, so please don't think we're denigrating your entire profession here) are reading this, we'd love to conduct a survey of the shows that are the most fun to sign. Do you have to paste on a fake expression of merriment when you're 'doing' "After You've Gone"? Will you be making secret signals as if to say "yes, I know. What a pair of wankers. Imagine being in the room with those two, and only having one bullet" when asked to sign the Jim Davidson episode of "The Dark Side of Fame With Piers Morgan"? The BrokenTV team would love to hear from you.

We don't even mind if you're only reading this statement as a result of a Google search fifteen months from now. We're very patient, and we realise no-one is reading this rubbish. Your anonymity is assured.


9 .:

Two Digits, Rampant said...

The Music ep of Look Around You S2. The signer clearly hadn't seen the programme before, presumably for budget reasons (sudden thought: maybe they were signing live. It was the 4am BBC2 Sign Zone repeat, so that'd be especially great if true) and was swept up by the groove of the songs, especially Sexual Interface.

A late-night ITV version of Queen of the Damned, a movie in which a vampire accidentally becomes a rock star. (Instinctively you foresee the fun of this silly idea, but the film is pitilessly self-important and entertainment-free.) The signer, again clearly not having seen the prog beforehand, becomes visibly embarrassed by the unfolding terribleness. When they come to sign the many, rubbish songs ("Ooo-ooo, I'm a vampire and I brood in the night / I loom palely and give you a fright / Aren't I mysterious and attractive and regal / How can someone so compelling and misunderstood be legal." Or something) the shamed contempt becomes too large for their fingers and they give up on the lyrics about halfway through with all but a sad slow shake of the head and some inaudible tuts.

Two Digits, Rampant said...

Something's just occurred to me while looking at that screenshot. The Beeb's signing, as you can see, involves shrinking the picture with a neutral background so the signer is both clearly visible and helpfully proportional to the action. You don't need to flick your eyes from the picture to the signer.

The way ITV do it is to superimpose a tiny signer on the bottom right of the screen. This not only obscures the bottom right of the picture but leaves you either snapping your pupils back and forth continuously between signer and the seldom-bottom-right-corner actors like that bloke's eyes in Identity or slightly unfocusing in an attempt to watch everything at once. The thing is, when there's a section in the movie without dialogue, ITV fade out the signer. This is obviously timed to a script rather than someone sitting there with a knob and guessing, so logically the Queen of the Damned office must have known beforehand what the film was like. The only possible conclusion is that they didn't tell Lyric-Disbelieving Translator as a funny joke.

Mark X said...

Good lord. I've just IMDBed up Queen Of The Damned, assuming it was a delightfully 1970s Hammer romp. When I found out it was an American (and Australian co-) production from 2002, my interest evaporated. I am going to make a number of assumptions about the film, that are likely to be wrong as I'm not about to go and watch it:

One. It features 'gritty' direction, to try and be like a bit like Sesevenen (or, if you must, Se7en). In this regard, it barely manages to reach the 'heights' of The Fan.

Two. As you've said, bad rock music. Why can barely anyone manage to come up with (or even use pre-existing) decent music in fiction? It's like the 'rock hit single' that crops up in the otherwise lovely 1998 BBC comedy drama In The Red, where the menacing figure who lurks around the scene of every murder turns out to be a pop singer employing guerilla marketing. And it had Zoe Ball and Kevin Greening doing the top forty on Radio One, which they never did. Gah!

I'm all in favour of signers being unaware of what they'll be signing in advance. In fact, get two signers in. One can relate the real tale of happenings on-screen, whilst the other could come up with witty MST3Kish comments and try to make the other one laugh. It'd make the signed repeats more popular and lots of people would be inclined to learn British Sign Language in order to see what all the fuss is about. As a result, the deaf community are better able to communicate with members of the general public, and the UK would become a slightly more tolerant place.

Steve Williams said...

It always baffles me what they choose to sign on TV channels, after the other week I recorded a signed edition of Larry Grayson's Generation Game off Challenge at 3am. Of course, Larry's appeal is all in the delivery, so God alone knows what the deaf must think of it.

It was a great show, though, because one of the contestants wrote poems and her ambition was to get one set to music and sung by Vince Hill, but he was in Darlington at the time, so they brought in a phone and Vince sang it live over the phone while Ronnie Hazelhurst conducted the orchestra live. And people thought Live Aid was a massive technical achievement!

Rodafowa said...

Why can barely anyone manage to come up with (or even use pre-existing) decent music in fiction?

Counterexamples: Almost Famous, Strange Days (surprisingly excellent Juliette Lewis covers of early PJ Harvey songs), Josie And The Pussycats (DON'T JUDGE ME).

Trufax - my best man and I watched Queen Of The Damned the night before my wedding (on the basis of having quite liked Interview With The Vampire). Think Underworld without the cheap titiliation but with extra terrible, terrible music.

Two Digits, Rampant said...

I've just discovered via the IMDB that the music for Queen of the Damned (which, to be fair, is terrible The Gothic Music rather than rock -- "rock star" is the correct term for any movie character who becomes famous at music, unless it's a drama about gaining wealth but increasingly shirking personal responsibility, in which case it's "pop star") was written by a man from The Gothic Music band, The Band Corn.

Obviously this was the purpose of the film being made, but because of a copyright error neither the man nor The Band Corn could appear on the soundtrack, which is as a result made up of covers by other similar bands the producers could have wasted not quite so much of their large cheques by hiring instead to begin with.

Also, the entire film came about because they suddenly realised the contract for a sequel to Interview With the Vampire was about to run out. It's Roger Corman's Fantastic Four the Musical.

Josie and the Pussycats is almost wholly great.

Mark X said...

Quick update: Purely with this thread in mind, I have PVRed the signed repeat of "The Dark Side of Fame With Piers Morgan: Jim Davidson".

It begins with Piers saying "Can you imagine being the funniest guy in Britain?". Signing Lady was quite clearly agog whilst signing this. I probably don't need to continue watching the programme. And if I do, I really suspect I would be praying for the introduction of Punch-o-Vision within ten minutes.

Quick update update: I have elected to go to bed.

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