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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