Thursday, 4 December 2008

This Peter Kay Thing (Part Three of a Three Part Series)

Previously on our misguidedly elongated review of Peter Kay's latest cash-in: this pre-amble, and this breakdown. And on we go.

0:44:33 The second part of his first appearance on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, with Kay seguing a mention of the theme to Van Der Valk with an anecdote about an annoying boss he had whilst working in a cash and carry. Interestingly, he makes the following statement which was supposedly tongue-in-cheek at the time: "fuck 'em! I'm 'ere! I'm coming! Getting me mum a bungalow, and then I'm out of this business!" Who knew?

0:45:44 Peter Kay's linking appearance in Live 8: The Final Push. Not the one in London where he comprehensively died on his arse, but rather a daytime appearance at (we think) Murrayfield, where he plays (well, mimes) the pan pipes in tune to "On Top Of The World". It's not as good as the version by Shonen Knife, obviously. It's intercut with an interview at the same event with Edith Bowman, saying how he did it for a bit of a laugh. It's received well enough, and he doesn't even have a pop at any roadies, so clearly better than his other Live 8 spot.

0:48:26 More appearances of his on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, this time two bits cut into one clip. It includes two separate introductions where he wanders off and does impromptu singalongs with Four Poofs And A Piano, taking the time in his second appearance to mention how the first time had been cut out of the BBC One transmission by killjoys. Any goodwill is diluted by him doing bloody Amarillo, however. We think this was before it was used as a Comic Relief single, but still. Interesting Local Colour Corner: "Show Me The Way To Amarillo" by Tony Christie 'featuring' (i.e. not actually featuring) Peter Kay was played in the Millennium Stadium immediately after Wrexham were awarded the 2005 LDV Vans Trophy, so you'd expect us to have fonder memories of the song. And you'd be quite wrong.

0:52:23 All goodwill is totally dissipated now, as it's another John Smiths advert. One bonus point for it being the one with Danny Baker co-starring, however.

0:52:53 Back on track with another segment of Peter Kay's World Of Entertainment from The Sunday Show, and he's on about Christmas Telly. That almost makes this on-topic as part of our ongoing festive theme. Rather delightfully, the piece revolves around Peter Kay choosing his own Christmas Day schedule on BBC One, which is pretty much the sort of thing we used to fantasise about when we were twelve years old. Do not judge us.

Peter Kay does an impersonation of Robbie Coltrane in a Cracker Christmas special, which is nice, and later on refers to "The Cast of Tenko On Ice", as well as rubbish second division double-acts recording Christmas specials in August. Not a dig at the likes of Morecambe and Wise or The Two Ronnies, but rather the likes of Little and Large or Cannon and Ball who were expected to fill the tinsel-trimmed shoes of the comedic giants once they'd decided to call it a day, only to discover they were nowhere near up to it. A good bit, all in all.

0:55:27 Kay on Parky again, and another part of his appearance with Lulu. Not much of it though, because we're on to...

0:55:59 Peter Kay dying on his arse at Live 8! He certainly gets a (relatively) euphoric reception, much larger than the one Ricky Gervais had received earlier on the same day. All he really does is try to sing Amarillo acapella to the nice ladies and gentleman, except he keeps getting interrupted by a sound engineer trying to get the levels right for The Who, who Kay subsequently calls 'dickhead'. The sound engineer, not the band, obv. Clearly not part of the act, and the sound engineer tries to take it all in good stead, even after being told off by Kay more than once, but given Kay is on in amongst the proper musical headliners he really should have realised he was only there to fill in a non-music bit. Then again, maybe he did realise that, as he clearly didn't bother doing any actual comedy material. But he didn't come over very well. Tsk.

Being fair, he didn't just evoke a reaction of stony bewilderment from the crowd like Ricky Gervais' "yeah, I've just had a phone call, and we've just sorted out poverty, so you can all go home now" performance did. But then, at least Gervais did actually prepare something new for the global audience of millions. Oh, we don't know what to think now, but either way we can't help but wonder if this is at least partly the reason Ricky Gervais spent so much time on his Extras Christmas special making quite blatant digs at Peter Kay.

0:58:25 "Now, something really special" says a man in a tuxedo we don't recognise. It's the Andy Prior Big Band Show, the caption tells us, so we could be in for something interesting and unexpected. The Big Band strike up a big band rendition of "Jump" by Van Halen, and Peter Kay wanders out to sing the lyrics. In a perfectly serious manner, and sporting a Rafa Benitez-issue goatee beard to boot. Slightly worryingly, we're just happening to get into big band music of the late '60s and early '70s lately (and if anyone reading this has any material by Orchester Günter Gollash other than the (fantastic) version of Es steht ein Haus in New Orleans, the BrokenTV are waiting for your call). A nice little bit of Peter Kay being a tad indulgent, only in a really good way. Using his powers for good, if you will.

1:01:20 Meanwhile, on the other side of the quality control coin, it's the Brian Potter BBC One Comic Relief Wheelchair Basketball Idents. Both the 7pm and the 10.30pm variants. We would never have suspected we'd be so underwhelmed by seeing a BBC One ident on a commercial DVD. Gosh.

1:02:01 Jim'll Fix It! Another bit from The Sunday Show, but with the actual real Sir Jim'll on presenting duties, reading out a pretend letter from Peter Kay, from 1978. While Kay very probably did send such a letter at the time (Kay certainly does made clear his fandom of Saville on that old interview trotted out by Paramount occasionally), the handwriting here is too neat for a six-year-old for that to be the original. We're not fooled that easily: NEW BBC FAKERY SCANDAL. Assisting Kay in with his wish to sing the end theme to Jim'll Fix It is... Mike Flowers from the Mike Flowers Pops! That's 1997 in a nutshell, right there. Maybe a bit self-indulgent, but it was a programme on BBC Two at a time of day when the EastEnders omnibus hadn't even been on yet. We'd argue you're perfectly entitled to do that sort of thing just before Sunday Grandstand.

1:05:58 Parky fawning over Kay again. This time Parky is on about the likelihood of Peter Kay taking on the USA comedy establishment. As you might expect, Kay pretty much admits he isn't going to translate, even though he'd given it a cursory stab in the recent past. He could always have changed his references from crap pop Rola-Cola to things like RC-Cola, we'd have thought. His 'performing in the US' anecdote revolves around doing a Karaoke spot in Vegas, so we're still not sure if he's tried doing an actual set over there. If he ever did try to crack North America, we suspect his parochial observations would go down even less well than Reeves & Mortimer did at the Montreal Comedy Festival (i.e. Just For Laughs) in about 1991. Pop fact: The biggest laugh R&M got from their performance that night was with the line "from a shop that sells carpets!", which wasn't even an actual punchline.

1:11:53 And with a reference to Vegas, it's time for another John Smiths advert, this time the Engelbert Humperdinck one. We remember this being shown 'exclusively' by an excited Tim and Helen on an episode of Soccer AM before it went shite. It's still not very good, though. We'd remember there being at least some half-decent John Smiths adverts with Peter Kay in them, but it seems we were mistaken. The Jack Dee ones really were loads better, what with them relying on being any good, rather than hoping someone really famous being in them would be enough.

1:12:37 Peter Kay's appearance on Glasgow Nights. An actual stand-up set! This time, it begins with a nice little piece about how easy a job playing the keyboards for in Soft Cell's "Say Hello, Wave Goodbye" would have been. The YouTube clip we've just linked to might give you the gist of the piece if you're not familiar with the track, and it's a pretty amusing observation.

1:13:48 But that's all we're getting of that particular set, because here comes the bit stickered onto the front of the DVD case: Peter Kay (or 'Geraldine') in the promo video for cynical cash-in single "The Winner's Song" from his 2008 shit-fest Britain's Got The Pop Factor Ha Ha Look Everyone, Even Pete Waterman Is In On The Joke, or whatever it was called. And then the end credits roll, at around 1:17:16.

Yeah, that's right Kay. Remind us why we don't like you any more.

It's a pretty disappointing end to the disc, because while they could clearly have included more of his early stand-up sets, it seemed a lot more of the runtime was given over to Parky fawning over him. We didn't get the remainder of his Gas routine after all, nor did we even get any of his appearance alongside the late Lord Bob on Parkinson. From what we'd seen of it, Lord Boob Monklouse had been pretty enthusiastic with his praise for Kay on that episode of Parkinson, so it would have made a really nice addition to the disc, but maybe there were complicated rights issues involved, so we'd better not get too uppity on that score.

The trimming of the stand-up sets is less excusable, however. They could easily have stretched out the runtime on the DVD to include the sets in full - they were from the time where Peter Kay was bursting with new ideas for routines, quite the polar opposite from nowadays, and surely a more worthwhile attraction than a bunch of adverts. With a load of archive goodness at your fingertips, especially when you've got a load of material that won't become otherwise available, why not put it out in full?

Enough of opinion. What does the cold hard arithmetical brain make of the contents on offer? We'll pour all our timings into the steampowered BrokenTV computational engine, B.U.G.G.E.R.L.U.G.S. That stands for "BrokenTV's Ultimately Great Graphical Engine Running Largely Unimpressive Graphing Software", if you're wondering. B.U.G.G.E.R.L.U.G.S.?

[A series of computing noises are played, mainly lifted from a downloaded torrent of Choc-A-Bloc .]

Thanks B.U.G.G.E.R.L.U.G.S.! First, a look at how many of each type of clip was present on the disc:

Ick. While Peter Kay generally does make for a relatively entertaining interviewee - say what you like, but it's certainly better than "well, what we were trying to do with the new album is..." - that's over egging the pudding somewhat. Especially when you consider that the above total is made by cutting a half-dozen interviews on three (three!) different programmes into several chunks. How about his full "first ever recorded stand-up set" (and not his first ever stand-up set as suggested on the DVD, as we've since been informed by someone in our blogroll) being shown in full? Or any of this stand-up sets? I know we've made this point already, but still.

What about a listing sorted by duration?

Interviews come top again, with the three most interesting flavours of offering languishing in fourth, fifth and eighth positions. Maybe that should be in some sort of graphical format:

Yeah, we know. "You should get out more." Well done, now shove off. Those quite small pieces of pie on the left? They should be a lot bigger, essentially. Although at least this way, the John Smiths adverts take up a lot less space. Strange, they seemed to go on for AN INTERMINABLE ETERNITY when we were watching the DVD.


Hmm. At this point, we can't help but refer back to something we'd said in the original pre-amble, before we'd even watched any of the disc. If such a disc had been produced cataloguing the televisual miscellany of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Morecambe and Wise, Reeves and Mortimer, Mayall and Edmondson, Lee and Herring or pretty much any worthwhile comedian of the last forty years, we'd be besides ourselves with excitement, and we'll wager so would any other comedy geek.

However, because it's perennial cash-in merchant Peter Kay gurning away on the front cover, suspicions are immediately raised. "He's only after the money!", "I want the three hours of my life I spent watching Max And Paddy's Road To Nowhere back!", "He can't even be bothered popping up to offer a personal introduction or commentary track, even though it's his own production company Goodnight Vienna that are responsible for this DVD, the lazy money-grubbing sod", you may well be saying right now. And you'd be largely correct.

However! A compilation DVD of never-to-be-repeated appearances from many people's favourite comedian is certainly preferable to shameless practices such as, oh we don't know, tossing out the exact same stand-up set two years in succession, or shoving out a 'Best Of' DVD compiling bits of your last three DVDs. The people who like Peter Kay want to see Peter Kay doing things they haven't seen before, or at least doing things they haven't already spent their hard earned money on, and this disc does just that. Except it does it in a really hamfisted, incomplete, and ill-considered way, and it's packed with phoned-in appearances in television commericals, charity shows and annoying pop videos.

Whatever we think, a number of things are incontrovertible. One: this DVD will still sell by the bucketload, and will probably sell for less than a fiver on Amazon Marketplace twelve months from now. Two: it's no wonder a lot of the people who helped Peter Kay get to where he is today think he's a cock. Three: No matter how many copies this DVD shifts, it won't spur any production companies into compiling similar efforts for Kenny Everett or Bob Monkhouse, even though they would clearly be a thousand times better. Or even a Bill Hicks DVD, so we could finally see his appearance on Pebble Mill - that's right, Bill Hicks was once a guest on Pebble Mill, and we'll NEVER get to see it again. Four: We've wasted a huge chunk out of three days of our one and only lives writing about a cash-in compilation DVD that we're only going to give a mark of FOUR OUT OF TEN.

After all this effort, you'd expect that we'd have an especially witty sign off to all this. You'd be wrong, though. So here's a picture of Peter Kay laughing at us.


4 .:

sonofajoiner said...

Come now, nothing is EVER as good as when Shonen Knife do it.

Mark X said...

That is VERY true.

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