Wednesday, 21 September 2011

R.E.M.R.I.P.– A Chartblast Infographic

So, Bingo Handjob have called it a day. Time for a quick CHARTBLAST looking at how Georgia’s finest performed in the hit parade over the years, on both sides of the pond.

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Interesting to note that in the UK, R.E.M. clocked up 19 top twenty singles, but only 5 in the USA. Indeed, the last time Stipe and Co even made the top forty in America was a whopping 17 years ago – since then they’ve had seven top ten hits in the UK. From this we can conclude that Britain is best at liking R.E.M.

“O! You soulless mechanic monsters and your relentless quest to turn art into numbers”, we hear you murmur, possibly while raising the back of a hand to your furrowed brow. We understand your concern, and so instead we present what we’re saying is R.E.M.’s finest five minutes. From the annoyingly limited CD single of Near Wild Heaven, it’s an absolutely breathtaking acoustic version of ‘Low’, and for our money, Stipey’s brooding vocal delivery has never sounded finer.

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Tuesday, 20 September 2011

How To Make Your TV Shows On DVD Collection 107% More Excellent (For Under £50)

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It’s the first of an occasional series of blog updates that’ll soon fizzle out into nothing! (Oh we WILL so continue with our World Cup of TV Comedy, really we will.) (Yes, really.) (REALLY.)

Long story short: thanks to our excellent now ex-colleagues, we’ve got some Amazon gift card virtu-cash to play with, so we’ve been having a look through Amazon, and there are quite a few great DVD bargains on the go at the moment. Ignoring all the movies on DVD (which will turn up on sale at £2.99 in Home Bargains in three months after being released, so quite why anyone ever pays full price for them we’ll never understand), here are a clutch of brilliant TV on DVD bargains currently on offer.

To make it more fun*, we’re going to spend an imaginary £50 of YOUR money on DVDs, and subsequently improve your DVD collection beyond all belief. Think of it as a kind of “Telly Geek Eye For The Normal Guy Or Girl (But Statistically Likely To Be A Guy)”. Or as being a bit like that round on Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation where they do something a bit similar only with goods from the past and no-one’s noticed yet that the logic behind the game doesn’t really work.

(*We may mean ‘fun’ in the same way that Intel once claimed the Pentium II processor was somehow ‘fun’, i.e. not fun at all.)

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Tuesday, 6 September 2011

After ‘Red Or Black?’: Those New Syco Gameshow Formats In Full

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Following the runaway success of ITV1 ratings juggernaut (SUB: PLEASE CHECK) RED OR BLACK, Simon Cowell’s production company Syco have devised a number of new and innovative gameshow formats, due to hit the nation's screens in 2012. BrokenTV's Dark Arts Dept have infiltrated Syco's underground lair to obtain these EXCLUSIVE details on What Simon Cowell Did Next.

THE X AND O FACTOR

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Two teams of 512 contestants, one captained by Ant, one by Dec. Each must take part in the world's biggest game of noughts and crosses, assembling themselves into shapes on a huge 3x3 grid on board an aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic. After each game, the remaining players are assigned into two more teams and the game repeated in a different pointlessly huge locale, until two individuals finally face-off in front of a live studio audience for the chance to win ONE MILLION POUNDS.

EXTREME POOH STICKS

Two teams of 1024 contestants. Two giant logs adorned with the letters 'A' and 'B', two cannons, and a trip around the great rivers of the world. Only one contestant can ultimately win a trip to Disneyland, where they will battle a giant animatronic Winnie The Pooh (with sticks) for a chance to win ONE MILLION POUNDS.

ROCK, PAPER, DIVERSITY

12,288 lucky contestants have been bussed into Syco's secret underground studio, where they are expected to predict the outcome of Rock, Paper, Scissor matches between members of inoffensive dance combo Diversity. One lucky winner will be the recipient of ONE MILLION POUNDS, while the 12,287 unlucky losers will be forced into a lifetime of servitude reporting unauthorised uploads of Syco artists on YouTube.

WHAT NUMBER IS DAVID HASSELHOFF THINKING OF?

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65,536 contestants are packed into Wembley stadium, and each has been assigned a number between one and a hundred. Will their number be picked by walking internet meme and Syco employee #2457 David Hassellhoff? If so, they get to continue their journey towards winning a prize of HOW EVER MANY POUNDS DAVID HASSELHOFF IS THINKING OF.


HEADS OR TAILS WITH JUSTIN LEE COLLINS

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Oh, wait.

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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Expectation Versus Reality (Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation UK)

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Aussie television blog TV Tonight reports that a British version of transgenerational celebrity panel show TALKIN’ ‘BOUT YOUR GENERATION could well be in the works, with original host Shaun Micallef under consideration to present the pilot episode. Now, that would clearly be great news for British fans of Shaun Micallef, of which there seem to be a surprisingly large amount considering the only work of his to ever be shown in here went out on Paramount on weeknights at 11pm about seven years ago, and whose work has never been released on DVD in the UK. Micallef fans aside, it could also provide a shot in the arm for pre-watershed non-Cowell entertainment on ITV, with the only genuinely exciting new format of the last few years, the marvellous PENN & TELLER: FOOL US being bounced around the schedules so much the series finale was sneaked out several weeks after the rest of the series on a different day of the week.

While some might (incorrectly) argue that the Penn & Teller show held little of interest for those who think magic shows are a relic of the past, TAYG should hold a more universal appeal by design. The format of the game – a battle of wits between the Baby Boomer generation, Generation X and Gen Y – means that there’s something viewers of all ages can relate to. Given the right host and team captains, while it’s not a format likely to gather a huge audience immediately, it could certainly prove to become a sleeper hit that grows an audience steadily as time goes on, much as happened with TV Burp. Providing of course, that it isn’t ditched because the first episodes didn’t bag seven million viewers.

A big part of TAYG’s success down under is down to the choice of team captains, with the mumsy Amanda Keller, smart-alecky bigger brother type Charlie Pickering and Josh Thomas, very much the ‘Alan Davies’ of the ensemble, who maintains a pupil/teacher relationship with host Shaun Micallef, combining effortlessly with the format of the show. Another major factor is that the show has evolved as each series has progressed, with what started as a relatively traditional quiz-based panel show having since become less and less conventional, to the point where the episode screened in Australia just a few hours ago saw the cast members switching roles, performing an entire episode dressed up and performing as each other.

Having the right choice of host – who in this instance happens to be the co-creator of the format – is integral to all this, with more and more of the humour we’ve come to expect from Shaun Micallef seeping into the show, even going as far to include specially shot sketches with the likes of Francis Greenslade and Kat Stewart, or pre-recorded appearances from characters performed by Micallef himself, such as “Former Heavyweight Champion of Goat Island” Milo Kerrigan, or a Japanese cliché-spouting Hello Kitty toy, with which real-Shaun interacts expertly.

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The changes that have taken place are perhaps best illustrated by screencaps of the questionmaster in action. Here’s Shaun in the first series, with a modest desk, and a single prop telephone, regularly used to mimic angry calls from the producer each time he delivers an especially corny joke.

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By the time of series three, any number of props appear on the desk, changing from episode to episode, most of which are never even referred to (like Shaun’s Tyrell Corp high-backed chair), while some (such as Stuart the Stuffed Meerkat, who springs up holding items any of the guests might be there to plug) are frequently remarked upon.

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And that’s before we get to the increasingly common themed episodes, of course:

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All of which makes us a little concerned at how the ITV version of the series might turn out (and it would be ITV – the show is a Granada Australia/ITV Studios production, so they already own the rights). The last decade has taught us that when ITV has a new light entertainment format, they tend to spin the ITV Whirly-Wheel Of The Half-Dozen Presenters We Like Right Now, and give it to whichever name clicks into place. Should TAYG UK become a full series, we suspect the host would end up being VERNON KAY, DERMOT O’LEARY, JONATHAN ROSS, JASON MANFORD or (may God have mercy on our souls) PADDY McGUINNESS. and we can’t really imagine any of those having the same sort of impact.

Instead, there are only five real candidates for the role as far as we’re concerned. And here they are:

SHAUN MICALLEF

THE CASE FOR: Clearly the best at doing the job. Effortlessly funny. A keen student of classic British comedy, so much so that the last episode of TAYG saw him throw in a Goon Show reference. More television viewers in this country would be introduced to the work of Shaun Micallef.

THE CASE AGAINST: Micallef might well not want to be away from his family for the few months of the year that TAYG UK would run, and even then, nor might the co-writers who help make the show what it is. More importantly, we suspect the ITV programme commissioners couldn’t countenance the idea of giving a primetime UK television show to someone who isn’t already well-known here.

PETER SERAFINOWICZ

THE CASE FOR: Probably the British comedy performer most like the multi-talented Micallef. After seeing Brian Butterfield slot in so well with the Shooting Stars format last week, having occasional questions posed by a pre-recorded Butterfield in a British version of TAYG would be wonderful, and Serafinowicz’s inventive humour would be well-suited to coming up with the kinds of question asked during the later rounds of the game.

THE CASE AGAINST: When Peter S does crop up on panel shows like Would I Lie To You or 8 Out of 10 Cats he hasn’t really been at his best, though that might because chipping in with the occasional comment isn’t really his style – a programme centred around him would be a different prospect. More pertinently, with him becoming increasingly popular in the US – his was the most interesting character in sitcom misfire Running Wilde, and he’s due to take part in the Arrested Development movie – he may well have neither the time nor inclination to host an ITV panel show.

ROB BRYDON

THE CASE FOR: Quick witted, able to adapt to a number of personalities, the kind of performer everyone’s mum likes. There’s a good chance he’d be willing to take on the role too, we’d imagine.

THE CASE AGAINST: We don’t think he’d be quite as good in the hosting role as Micallef or Serafinowicz. Might be tied to the BBC – we don’t think he’s fronted anything for another network since 2004’s Director’s Commentary for ITV1.

JASPER CARROTT

THE CASE FOR: Maybe a bolt out of the blue this one, but his spell hosting early evening gameshow Gits Win Prizes Goldenballs proves that he’s perfectly capable of hosting such a show. If Carrott can rediscover the form the saw him become Britain’s favourite stand-up for the late 1980s and early 1990s, he could still do well here. If nothing else, it’d be brilliant to have Jasper Carrott back on Saturday night telly.

THE CASE AGAINST: Now in his sixties, he’s probably a bit too old now to go back to doing characters, even if that would only be a minor part of the show. Of the people on our shortlist, Carrott would possibly prove the biggest risk, and there’s a large chance he’s perfectly happy living off the fortune he made from Celador.

HARRY HILL

THE CASE FOR: Surely he’ll have to try something that isn’t TV Burp eventually? No, we’re not counting You’ve Been Framed, it seems he just knocks out all those voiceovers in a single week. Mr Harry could certainly breathe a lot of life into a British version of TAYG, and the format would give him an ideal opportunity to bring back characters such as Stouffer the Cat or Bert Kwouk.

THE CASE AGAINST: There’s a danger the show would become more about Harry Hill than anything else, and unlike with (say) Shooting Stars where the guests are merely meat in the room, the guests on TAYG are there to actually take part. Such a role would require him to come a little bit out of character at time – which as we’ve seen with his godawful I Wanna Baby single or radio interviews where he bemoans the BBC spending money on programmes that he doesn’t like, might not be a good thing.

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Sadly, we do suspect that it’ll be none of the above, and it’ll probably end up as a vehicle for Keith fucking Lemon. PROVE US WRONG, ITV. Just because Australian television picked the wrong host for their version of TV Burp (Ed Kavalee, who we don’t have anything against, just that he wasn’t quite right for the series), it doesn’t mean that you should return the favour.

Here’s a sample clip of the show in action. It’s a segment from a special episode where the guests are real-life relatives of the team captains, and where Josh Thomas’ grandmother Mona puts in a wonderful performance.

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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Usavich vs Paul Merton: The Series (WORLD CUP OF TV COMEDY)

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So, welcome to the opening match of the BrokenTV World Cup of TV Comedy 2011. Before 'kick off', an interesting bit of background - BrokenTV's Mark X originally came up with the notion of putting each match up to a public vote, in very much the same manner used in the BETEO Song Wars, which he devised and is best at. Upon realising that (a) no-one would really sit through two entire episodes of a TV show before voting in each round, (b) getting hold of complete, legally viewable episodes of each show online would be near impossible, and (c) he's clearly the best at liking comedy anyway, the decision was made to do things this way.

And so, over to our commentary team for today's match, Tony Gubba and Egyptian polymath/high priest of the sun god Ra, Imhotep.

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TONY: So, a bit of a controversial choice for the finals here. USAVICH is a series of short animations - made for MTV Flux Japan - clocking in at just 90 seconds long. In order to participate, the competition organisers have agreed to count each full season as a single 'episode'. As that still totals just 21 minutes, it has been agreed to let the plucky Asians take part.,The crowd seem a bit uncertain about this, Imhotep.

IMHOTEP: Suspect the tetchiness of the crowd might be down to us having nicked this fake sporting commentary riff from J Nash, Tony.

TONY: It's a homage, Imho. You know, like when Family Guy steals jokes from things on telly in the 1980s.

IMHOTEP: Boy, this is worse than the time I dropped acid with the cast of Rentaghost, Tony.

TONY: That's the level, Imho. Up against Usavich today is oft-forgotten sketch show PAUL MERTON: THE SERIES. Coming from that short period where people let the London-based funnyman make actual proper comedy on television instead of just having him react to things in a wry manner, or front engrossing documentaries on cinema.

IMHOTEP: PM:TS was certainly the high watermark in Merton's career, possibly even the funniest sketch comedy to ever be shown on Channel Four, aside from Absolutely. The two series run maintained a very high standard throughout, which made it all the more surprising when his two subsequent pilots for the BBC, The Paul Merton Show (BBC Two, 1996) and Does China Exist? (BBC Two, 1997) proved to be on the disappointing side. And nowadays of course, Merton seems to have been replaced by an unfunny doppelganger willing to make jokes about the Daleks' inability to climb stairs on Have I Got News For You. In 2011!

TONY: Luckily, it's that high watermark we're looking at here, courtesy of the entire series being freely available to view on 4OD. The first episode was promoted by Merton wearing a T-shirt that said "TURN OVER AT 11" on Have I Got News For You an hour previous, and a later episode closed with Merton furiously eating a massive bowl of cornflakes, with the punchline being "that was a party political broadcast for the Campaign To Legalise Cannabis" which the studio audience found utterly hilarious but which I still don't get. But which will episode will be sent out to bat today? Over to King Edward VII at the randomiser.

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USAVICH: SERIES ONE

PAUL MERTON THE SERIES: SERIES TWO, EPISODE TWO

TONY: Here’s how it’s going to work. Both of the chosen episodes are to be watched SEMI-SIMULTANEOUSLY (the team tried watching both actual-simultaneously, but things soon got hugely confusing). As events in each programme catch the eye of the ‘referee’ at key points of the ‘match’, points can be added – or subtracted – accordingly. If it works out at all, I’ll be astonished quite frankly. If nothing else, it’ll be a huge strain on the creaky old PC in the BrokenTV office. Over to today’s match officials, the BrokenTV crew.

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