Sunday, 25 December 2005

A Very BrokenTV Christmas

(aka. We've had a bit to drink, and aren't tired enough to go to bed just yet.)

Before we start on our Top Ten TV Things Of The Year (we're not naming our Worst TV Show Of The Year until we hit number two on the Best TV list, to ramp up the suspense), here's another rundown. This'll seem a really bad idea when we sober up, but until then:

BrokenTV's Top Five Hosts Of Foreign Versions Of Deal Or No Deal

5. Argentina

So, that's what happened to John Gregory.

4. Slovakia

Clearly a surefire way to get ahead in Slovakian television is to have the WORLD'S TINIEST BEARD. It makes Tony Almeida in the first series of 24 look like Brian Blessed.

3. Bulgaria

Similarly, really bad shirts work well with executives of Bulgarian television.

2. Australia

Never mind the host, what's going on with all the clones in the background? Genetically created identical octuplets? Are they the contestants? If so, does all the money eventually go to an evil scientist in a mountaintop castle? And why are the prizes contained in children's lunchboxes? BROKENtv DEMANDS ANSWERS.

1. Slovenia

In Slovenia, the host's name is Victory Looser. And this is what he looks like. This is excellent.

(More accurately, it's the quiz host persona of TV personality Bojan Emersic. We still want to see it, though. Is there a Slovenian version of UKNova?)

In other DoND news, it seems talks are in place to have an extra episode in primetime, as well as the standard daytime episodes. Well, as long as it doesn't interfere with BrokenTV's ongoing mission to win the viewers prize (via the free web entry, obv). Now, who's up for our sweepstake competition, to see who can guess when the first tabloid columnist will erroneously claim Deal is another British TV invention taking off all over the world, like they always incorrectly do with the similarly Dutch TV show Big Brother?

Wednesday, 21 December 2005



The Guardian's Rupert Smith classified The Catherine Tate Show pretty much correctly when he stated that it's basically a product aimed at children so undemanding they're happy with their Crazy Frog ringtones and Girls Aloud singles. Unfortunately, he soon followed it up by seeming to assume that it's all his fault for not liking it after all, and that the majority is probably right. The limp-ass liberal wimp. Also, he actually said "swearing and catchphrases are great", the clot. No, if it's a comedy programme on terrestrial television at 9pm, I'd expect a bit more reward for plonking my carcass in front of the television than to see someone utter the same script as the previous episode, but in a slightly different setting each week. With different swears each time.

But, hey. As long as it gives an opportunity for cackling harridans in works canteens to say "bovvered?" to each other and to 'get' the reference, that's fine. Innit?

3. Little Britain (BBC One)

See number five. Lucas and Walliams nick the higher slot in the rundown, because I know they can do better than churn out another half-arsed "as Lou turns away, Andy gets out of his wheelchair and runs around in a manner befitting their current environment, to massed applause".

Oh, why don't Paramount Comedy repeat their excellent Spoofovision Mash And Peas links from about ten(!) years ago? 'My English Cousin' is worth a dozen vomiting racist old ladies.

2. A Bear's Tail (Channel Four)

Comedy for people who find Little Britain too highbrow.

Monday, 12 December 2005



There's a reason why nobody ever watches David Letterman in the UK. The reason is: because it's generally thirty-five minutes of tedious jokes-that-aren't, with a few interviews tacked on at the end. One episode we sat through featured a researcher being made to do a crap little dance that her ex-boyfriend used to do, repeatedly. This dragged out for a full ten minutes, meaning they didn't have enough time for one their guests. For Johnny's sake. Which is why it got shunted around the UK schedules, from a 7pm flagship programme for ITV2, until it ended up at 3am, presumably because it won the toss against showing Jobfinder repeats from 1989. Then ITV4 came along and needed something to fill the other side of midnight. We give it three months before it ends up nestled amongst the 3am low-quality camcordered smut on Men And Motors.

And that bald band leader bloke with the glasses who feels the need to bang a musical instrument every time someone, anyone, does anything, anything at all, really needs to go and invade himself with a brick.

And if there's one thing that annoys us more than Letterman, it's a feeble imitation of Letterman...


Chris Evans utterly failing to realise exactly why everybody suddenly got sick of TFI Friday by the end of the 1990s, there.

TFI had gone from featuring lots of interesting guests and decent bands, to a weekly hour of Chris Evans having his ego gently licked by several of his Super Showbiz Chums. Dipping into TFI's entry (hey, I'm as surprised as you), a typical show from 1997 featured Courteney Cox, Jimmy Tarbuck, Sinead O'Connor, Mansun and My Life Story. An interesting line-up that you genuinely wouldn't have seen on any other television programme. On an episode just two years later, the only guests they could rustle up were Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakson, in order to clear more space for tedious Letterman-esque banter with one of his flunkies. A Big-Brother-people-and-Sara Cox-guest-helmed dumper beckoned for TFI.

Fast forward to 2005. Not learning from the calamitous outings for TFI-lite vehicles for Chris Moyles and Christian O'Connell (not to mention Born fecking Sloppy), Chris does a semi-decent turn on Comic Relief, and subsequently worms his way onto ITV1's Sunday night line-up. Chris Evans gives lots of interviews stating how the new show had been in meticulously-planned development for months, and it would be quite unlike anything we've ever seen before. The first episode kicks off with a theme song all about Chris Evans, the only guest is a slightly uncomfortable appearance by his ex-wife. He presents a game-show segment where the public are meant to give a flying arse about whether a toaster is his toaster or another celebrity's toaster. There's a section where Chris Evans uses up time by showing something 'hilarious' to his guest, not letting anyone else in on the joke, then destroying the evidence. And so on. All this lasts for an hour. Christ.

The second episode may well have been the same (but with Only Guest being one of Evans' Super Showbiz Chums), but luckily I'd already stabbed myself in the eyes with a fork as a precaution.

Sunday, 11 December 2005

The BrokenTV Awards 2005

Yes, I know we've only been going for a few weeks. But anyway, here's the first exciting section of our end of year rundown, and not just an excuse to stick the boot in on several TV shows that have irked us months before we had the idea of starting a blog purely for the purposes of sticking the boot in on several TV shows that have irked us.

And don't think of disparaging us just because we're not even pretending it's a proper awards ceremony, but a top ten rundown of good and bad shows. We're too wily for any such critics, and in any case have just scarpered down the fire escape, shouting the following over our shoulder:


From ten to one, in reverse order:


Copying what The Daily Show does! It's the new copying what The David Letterman Show does! All three examples are fairly equally bad, although several bonus points to Not Tonight for getting John Sparkes back onto national television. It was only a Barry Welsh offcut, but we'll take it.


Good Things About Jimmy Carr:
- He's a quite good stand up comedian sometimes.

- His early stand-up delivery at times sounded like it was going to be uttered in the manner of the "it wouldn't be an elephant" bloke from an episode of The Chris Morris 1FM Music Show, which fleetingly brought back happy memories of listening to that while playing Sensible Soccer.

Bad Things About Jimmy Carr:
[The rest of this post deleted. We've only got so many terabytes of disk storage, you know. -Blogger admin.]

Good Things About The Friday Night Project:
- The backdrops were done by the same artist who did the cover art for The Best Of Blur.
[edit] Except: no! It was someone nicking the style of Julian Opie, and not the Blur:Best designer after all (see the comments). This probably pushes TFNP even further up the 2005 List Of Evil.

- Erm.

Bad Things About The Friday Night Project:
[Look, I've told you once. -Blogger admin.]

Numbers 6 to 1 coming soon. And we'll have to find ten programmes to be nice about as well, I suppose.

Thursday, 1 December 2005

Little Britain Series Four: EXCLUSIVE SCRIPT EXTRACT!

Yes, they're working on it already. Cunningly disguising ourselves as Richard Herring's letterbox, we've intercepted an early draft of episode 4.1, from which we present to you the following 'skit'.

[The scene: The studio set of Channel Four's hit not-really-a-quiz quiz show Deal Or No Deal. Noel Edmonds prowls the set, as is his wont, and the camera follows him while he makes his introduction. As he nears the centre of the set, today's contestant is revealed. It is Andy Pipkin.]

Noel : So, today's lucky contestant is young Andy P from London. Andy, are you looking forward to doing battle with The Dealer?

Andy : Yeah, I know.

Noel : Er, okay. So, you've selected your box which could contain anything from 1p, all the way up to a massive £250,000.

[Audience applause.]

Andy : Yeah, I know.

Noel : And the first step on the road to that cool quarter of a million is to select the first five boxes to open. Let's hope it's a low number to begin with. Andy, your first choice, please.

Andy : 1p.

Noel : I'm sorry?

Andy : I want to open the box with 1p in it.

Noel : Erm, you need to select a number from one to twenty-two.

Andy : Yeah, I know.

Noel : So, your first box, please.

Andy : 1p.

Noel : Erm, lets just go for box one...

[Cut to box number one. It is manned by Andy's long-suffering helper, Lou.]

Lou : Erm, Andy - are you sure you want to open this box first? It could be the quarter of a million pounds one...

Andy : Yeah, I know.

Lou : So, which box do you want?

Andy : The 1p one.

Noel : Oh, just open box number one.

[Cut to Lou about to break the seal and open the box.]

Lou : Oh, what a kerfuffle. Good luck, Andy!

[There is a distant seal-breaking sound. Cut back to Andy. In a flagrant disregard of the rules, he has broken the seal of his box, and flipped the lid to reveal it contains just 50p. Before anyone can say anything, Andy tosses the box over his shoulder in a dismissive manner.]

Andy : I don't like it!

[Pause for massive audience laughter, as if they didn't see it coming as soon as the sketch began. Cut to Racist Vomit Woman. Via an introduction by Tom Baker that refers to something from the 1980s. Like Wham bars, or Saint and Greavsie.]

Further Deal Or No Deal News

The American version begins on the 19th of December, on NBC. In a staggering display of wrongness, The Dealer in the American version is known as 'The Bank'. Therefore, it is rubbish.

Speaking of Deal Or No Deal...

...are we bored of it yet? Due to a combination of factors such as:

(a) The bullish performance of that bloke in yesterday's episode, where - wonderfully - he declared his own 'deal' price, got to speak to The Dealer (proving that HE INCONTROVERTIBLY EXISTS), who instead of making a counter-offer, simply said "no deal". Oh yes, it's moments like this that make us rush straight home from work, y'know.

(b) The woman on today's episode (look, we're no good with names. Just leave us alone) turning down a sizeable £29,000 offer to go all the way to the last two boxes, after just two from fourteen Box Jockeys recommended she turn down the five-boxes-to-go offer.

(c) The Box Jockeys no longer bother with that tedious "Ooh, I reckon it's going to be a low number, Noel!" business before breaking the seal. It was really, really starting to get on our tit end.

No. We still like it. Hurrah!

Saturday, 26 November 2005

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Making Television Great Again. Here's how.

You know, when BrokenTV isn't sitting at home downing shots of Kwik Save rum in order to stave off the cold because the bloke hasn't turned up to fix the sodding boiler again (don't get us started), or cursing ITV4 for it's habit of starting Larry Sanders before the listed timeslot (hey, not that we're compiling an illicit DVD box-set of it or anything) it has ideas.

Depending on who you listen to, the first episode of the new series of Little Britain was watched by between eight and eleven million people. Despite that, pretty much everyone BrokenTV has spoken to about the programme has done little more than express their dismay at how laugh-free the whole experience was. And yet we're betting that the majority of disappointed viewers tuned in the following week, just to see if it was going to get any better (instead of, say, slightly modifying the feed-lines that led to each catchphrase). And as each disappointed viewer still counts as one in the ratings, lots of 'creative' BBC people pat each other on the back and begin to look up the phone number for Leigh Francis' agent. Clearly, this is a VERY BAD THING.

You could excuse ITV for letting one of their comedy shows get away with endemic laziness because a lot of people are watchi... oh, right. But the BBC are meant to be quality-led, and not at the behest of advertisers (and you won't find BrokenTV doing any Mail-esque Beeb-bashing, as we genuinely believe it's one of the few things the UK still has to be proud of). If only there were some way you could let them know what you think, without having to pester Points Of View.

Well, when we're in charge of television, this is what you'll see:

Not just repeats of Fantasy Football (although we do think it'd do well for Bravo or Men & Motors), but a digital telly opt-in psuedo AmIHotOrNot ranking system. You're given the option to sign up for the scheme, giving the rankings people your standard demographic data (a godsend for evil marketing types, who'd happily underwrite the whole project just to get their filthy mitts on your watching habits, and convert your life into a series of numbers), and Super Special New Software is uploaded to your digibox. From there, near the end of any programme, you can press the yellow button, and mark it out of ten. Just move the cursor using your remote arrow keys (from a default of five), hit select, and you've marked a programme out of ten.

Once a week, your digibox calls an freephone number uploading the data, where it can be jumped on marketing people ("Larry Sanders is very popular with the ABC1 people, not so well with the plebs. Cancel the Cillit Bang adverts, get BMW's agency on the phone!" They'd love it!). Meanwhile, you get to champion your favourite shows. And, possibly, supposedly public service broadcasters might not spend so much time promoting shows that nobody actually enjoys very much.

If the rankings people think you're especially useful to them, there could even be a 'hidden' digital channel (in much the same way that RTE is picked up by all Sky digiboxes, but only viewable by those in the Republic of Ireland), transmitting not-for-public-consumption pilots. Useful participants in the ranking scheme are given access to the channel, and hey presto! A free, instant focus group. It might even lead to better television, as what gets shown wouldn't just be decided by a group of executives in suits. No more Spoons!

We really hope that when someone steals this idea (and we're saying it's one of the best ideas ever to happen about television ever), blog postings count as evidence, and we can sue.

Which demographic does BrokenTV belong to, you may ask? EISDDKWR1 (or Embittered Idiots That Spend All Day Drinking Kwik Save Rum, if you must).


Rubbish Films That Are Great

Admit it. If anyone asks what your top three films of all time are going to be, it's quite likely that you'll want to try and look 'clever' and chuck Citizen Kane, Seven Samurai or Rebecca in there, even though you secretly want to say how much you want to put Teenwolf or something in there. Oh, and extra bonus twat points if you'd say 'Shichinin No Samurai' instead of Seven Samurai. Well, at BrokenTV, we're prepared to put our TV-only remit behind for a minute (and not just because we forgot to watch Little Britain earlier, and therefore have nothing to put the boot into for this update), and begin a series saluting the films that you keep well away from eye-level of your VHS shelf*, but which you will always, always try to catch when they crop up at 9pm on Sky Cinema 2.

(*Many such films not being available on DVD, natch. Oh, shiny disc - when will you play host to Elvira: Mistress of the Dark?)

Number one. National Lampoon's European Vacation.

Mel Smith as the landlord of a grubby B&B! Beverly D'Angelo in the shower! The bit where they turn up at the wrong house in Switzerland and stay for a week! What's not to like?

Even though everyone now prefers to say how they always hated Chevy Chase, come on! C'maaan, he was great in the first few Lampoon flicks, and excellent in the Fletch movies. A pity the Kevin Smith Fletch-remakes with Jason "Stole A Car From A One-Legged Woman" Lee never happened, really. Even Eric Idle, in full do-anything-to-appear-in-an-American-production mode, wasn't too annoying, but I might just be comparing his appearance in this with Nuns On The Run.

The way things are, everyone files it into the same category as Police Academies five through seven, so they can pretend they preferred the well-meaning tedium of Cocoon or Colin'n'Edith endorsed okay-to-like fodder like The Goonies instead. People like you sicken us.

And, just for the hell of it, that picture of Beverly D'Angelo in the shower.


Oh, and for the record, depending on our mood when you ask, BrokenTV's top three films are:

The Big Lebowski
The Jerk
(Although admittedly, The Great Dictator and Horse Feathers may well be promoted from positions four and five to two and three, if we're trying to impress the person asking the question. Hey, we ain't proud. We're as shallow as the next blog.)

Next time: Tank Girl, we shouldn't wonder.

Friday, 18 November 2005

"Ha ha! The best bit was when that woman pissed on the floor!"

Little Britain: Series Three
Thursdays 9pm

Sure, it might not seem very funny now. Just wait until they've repeated the exact same eight jokes in slightly different settings, then you'll see. Tom Baker doing BBC One's continuity all evening was good, though. He even did the regional variations ("BBC One Wales") and everything.

Next week on Little Britain: The old woman pisses on the floor of a library. Or possibly a hospital.

Thursday, 17 November 2005

How advertising works: Part one

Case study: The Break Bumpers From Lost on Channel Four and E4.

Here's how it works. Say paid £2million for the privilege of showing their mini adverts showcasing the talents of the 118118 'actors' in a rehearsal studio. Here's how they can turn this into a profit, via a pie-chart...

Now, say six million people watch Lost, as long each of the 0.8% of people who like the 118118 ad bumpers crashing into the finely honed suspense of Charlie remembering how he used to shoot crack into his balls before he met Claire create over £50 revenue each, by finding out peoples phone numbers over the web, they're in profit. It's that easy!

Tune in next time for more advertising tips, listeners!

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Old TV versus New TV: First Qualifying Round

BBC Four ratings. week ending 6/11/05.

"Yes Minister for the 21st Century" (i.e. a brand new episode of Armando Ianucci's excellent The Thick Of It) : 146,000 viewers.
Yes Minister from the 20th Century (i.e. a repeat of Yes, Prime Minister that has already been repeated on various digital and terrestrial channels since original transmission) : 148,000 viewers.

Yes, Prime Minister wins on away goals, and would go on to meet a Paramount repeat of The New Statesman, only their top ten programmes are dominated by Badly Dubbed Porn, Sexy Cam and Das Crazy Clip Show. Gah.

Saturday, 12 November 2005

Deal Or No Deal: Are We Bored Of It Yet?

So, Deal Or No Deal. The sleeper TV hit of the year. It's a bit like '...Millionaire', only without the questions, and not really all that much like it after all. The question is: What with Deal Or No Deal being on six days a week despite it only being a case of "Someone has picked a number at random. Will it be a big number or a small number. It'll take 45 minutes for you to find out!", are we bored of it yet?

[A phone rings. BrokenTV picks up the phone, chuckles a bit at the response, then walks around looking pensive.]

Are we bored of it yet? After all, we probably will be at some point. But. Are we bored of it yet?

[Dramatic pause.]

No, it's still a thoroughly entertaining thing to look at enjoying a post-work cuppa. Phew.

BrokenTV versus Broken News

Hello and welcome to BrokenTV: A Blog Where An Embittered Crisp-Chomping Idiot Sits In Front Of A PC Railing Against Current TV Programmes In Lieu Of Anything Worthwhile. Hmm. Needs a better tagline, perhaps.

Anyway, down to business.

BBC Two, 10pm, Mondays

Fricking heck.

I'm going to cut to the chase here, folks. Despite being written by John "wrote and directed People Like Us" Morton and Tony "wrote World of Pub, writes for The Thick of It" Roche, Broken News is quite possibly the limpest half-hour of faux-comedy ever broadcast on BBC Two. And BBC Two once broadcast Double Take.

If you're not familiar with what Broken News is, it's essentially The Day Today, but with all the funny bits replaced with items where you might think "hey, I can see how that sort of might be funny. Only it isn't". Example: you know bird flu? The big story of bird (or 'avian') flu that is going on at the moment? Well, what if they replaced the word 'bird' with, say, 'tomato'. Tomato flu. And then they ran with it. For ages. Well, it's that, for half-an-hour. For six weeks. Guh.

It's as if the writers lost the scripts on the way to filming (possibly Tony Roche left them in a taxi in an excellent Hugh Abbott-y manner), and hurredly did a Google for "British websites trying to 'be' The Onion", printing out any results before the cast walked in. And we all know how poor British websites trying to 'be' The Onion are, hey kids? If there was time, they'd have scribbled a few bits they've remembered from The Day Today ("frozen slab of urine") or Barry Welsh Is Coming ("Look Out East" not being quite as funny as "Look Out Wales", though) into the margins.

Quite often you'll hear people complaining that "American TV can knock out quality shows in 26-part seasons, and British telly can barely stretch to a six-week run without relying on tedious catch-phrase comedy where the actual jokes are the same. Every. Single. Week", and nowhere is this more true than in the case of Broken News. While the BN team can barely fill a single half-hour without 78% of the audience wondering if they wouldn't be better off watching the real local news on ITV instead, America's top news parody, Fox News, is now in it's ninth year of 24-hour transmission. Man, I love that crazy Bill O'Reilly character.

What? Oh.

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