McCain-Ackroyd



We've just time for a quick update on this before our US Election Special knocks everything else off the front page. Last week saw a welcome return to form for Newstopia after a couple of slightly sub-par episodes (which were, in themselves, saved from the doldrums by at least a couple of brilliant sketches per episode, cementing Shaun Micallef's place alongside Peter Serafinowicz as one of the world's best impersonators, if only that particular comedic genre wasn't utterly beneath them). Here are some of the highlights that, erm, highlight just why Newstopia SHOULD, MUST and (when we finally get our way) WILL be on the television screens of the British public. Come on, Channel Four Television. If you can broadcast an hour per week of Rory Bremner being pleased with himself on your main channel, you can at least shove this onto one of your digital tentacles.

NEWSTOPIA HIGHLIGHTS W/E 31/10/2008

There's an extended intro featuring musings on how the US Presidential Race mirrors the plot of Trading Places. SPOILER! "In the end, the combined efforts of Obama-Murphy and McCain-Ackroyd wipe out the share value of all the stocks owned by the people who put them where they are."



Newstopia's delightfully eccentric South American correspondent Cesar Romero returns, which is great news. Not least because of the great reveal gag at the end of the piece. Which we're about to ruin. A pity Pilger Heston won't be returning, though.



A spoof documentary purporting to be about a GOP think-tank looking into sexing up the McCain campaign that involves Val Doonican, Roger Whittaker and NWA. "What about the Food Fighters?"



The global weather forecast.



And more of the Newstopia team's admirable campaign to revive the tradition of "pretend adverts and trailers sneaked into a genuine commercial break". Including a shot of the back of Kevin Keegan's shoulder in 1997!



Plus a smashing bit played out over the end credits, which doesn't even remotely work with a screenshot.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Here here!

Questions in the House between Steve Nallon in a wig and Jeannette Charles said...

Shock upset for Micallef-impersonation-accuracy fans in screenshot two (discounting the intro pic). As you know, Cesar Romero refused to shave for his Batman role so they slathered on the pancake to Eaton-choking depth in order to denude his philtrum by effect. But even though Shaun's now grown his own lip-tickler, we can *clearly* see in the poorly chosen snap from an awkward facial angle that his moustache is significantly visible by miserly powdering.

Mark X said...

Shaun's moustache does seem to have prevented him from appearing in a lot more of the non-desk pieces, so we should probably be grateful for the appearance of Cesar Romero (I had forgotten about the moustache/make-up thing). SBS' miserly budgets would probably would have meant the extra make-up would necessitate cutting the series by two episodes.

Questions in the Grieg between him and him said...

Is it really done that cheaply? Coo. There's no sense of parsimony in the lavish graphics, frequent full makeups and elaborate location shoots and (as we discovered via a sketch in ep 4 which mentioned CNN for that very reason) the trad Newstopia banner across the bottom quarter of the screen in gag reports doesn't in fact cleverly obscure the logo of the television stations they've nicked all the clips from, so presumably those are paid for after all. Then again, I've no idea what other programmes SBS make, so maybe the entire network is dedicated to Newstopia and a couple of repeats of the proper Miss Marple with Joan Hickson in they've obtained via buying the videos advertised in the back of the Radio Times then returning the tapes for a refund after broadcasting them.

Mark X said...

As far as I'm aware, SBS is pretty much BBC Four on a smaller budget. It's Australia's 'other' state-funded channel (alongside ABC), and broadcasts mainly imported programming, including many in languages other than English - such as Austria's 'Kommissar Rex', hence the spoof trailers for 'Inspektor Herring'. Going by the SBS TV Wikipedia page, it also broadcasts Mexican and Brazilian telenovelas, anime and the Turkish version of The Nanny, alongside British imports like Top Gear, Skins and Nighty Night. Quite the demented mix.

Alan Yentob vigorously commissioning himself said...

Okay, I've seen 3.05 now (the one precised in this post), plus the all-new mathematically superior 3.06, thanks to the slightly glitchy caps at ("Binibova" - Ed).

Here's a slightly intriguing bit: the capper has included the SBS disclaimers at the beginning, which I don't think are in the newsgroup encodes. Some posh Smarties fly about the screen while a soothing male voice intones, "The following programme has been classified M. It is recommended for mature audiences. It contains coarse language," and the screen displays, "This programme contains coarse language" (with "programme" misspelt, obv) and a lozenge reading, "M. Recommended for mature audiences."

Mundane enough, but 3.05 also features this pre-disclaimer disclaimer: "SBS wishes to advise that the following programme may cause distress to members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. It may contain images or voices of deceased persons." This is read in a soothing female voice. The screen displays exactly those words, plus a few Smarties and a large friendly yellow exclamation mark sedately pursuing the word "warning" around the screen. It can't be a joke, because it's on before Mr Coarse Language, who himself is clearly not part of the prog.

I've now watched the show twice, once properly and once in VLC fast-forward-o-vision, and can only conclude the terrible warning refers to either (a) a photo of an anonymous Aboriginal bloke for the "Intervenal" bit; (b) a brief newsreel of Gandhi, introducing the Man in Time bit; (c) Laika the Space Dog; or (d) Dean Martin in a half-second clip before Jerry Lewis's sports report on cricket. Could you, Broken TV's Mark Broken, having cleared up the mystery of SBS's likely budgets by examining a page online, next tackle this baffling network alarm? Thanks.

Mark X said...

Having investigated more than three websites, it seems that the warning message was wholly to do with the image of the anonymous Aboriginal chap. Going by OLFC guidelines (that don't actually show up when browsing their website, uselessly), any images shown of Australia's indigenous people in any broadcast medium must have a similar disclaimer. For example, the ABC's page for indigenous folk - http://snipurl.com/5aqtr - includes the disclaimer "This website may contain images and voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have passed away". I can't find any concrete evidence to back this up as the OLFC website - http://snipurl.com/5aquh - has a search engine made of leaves and spit, but it seems they're hedging their bets on imagery of persons they can't absolutely verify as alive.

The TVTropes Wiki (http://snipurl.com/5aqta) has some (at least partly inaccurate) information on other warning messages, such as the BBFC's warning that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets contains "Fantasy Spiders", or Australia's helpfully vague warnings on "Mild Themes" and "Moderate Themes".

7:22 PM, November 12, 2008 said...

Excellent. This presumably means that when Australia's well thought-through national firewall is switched on, most of its own television programmes will be instantly banned, followed by Shaun Micallef ritually chased through the streets by a frightening logo which eventually corners and stamps him to death.

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