Tuesday, 24 January 2006

We'll Go Back To Hating It When The Next 'Regular' Big Brother Comes Around, You Know

Want to vote to see a celebrity housemate kicked out of the CBB house? But not sure which one to vote for? We've filtered several weeks of bickering from each one of Wednesday's potential evictees into one representitive soundbite, to help you decide.

George: "The yolk's on you, Michael!"

Gnn. If there's ever a surefire way to judge someone's character, it's to allow yourself get hit by an egg. If the thing they say next revolves around the fact that the word 'yolk' sounds a bit like the word 'joke', then it's probably a good idea to try and set them on fire. GEORGE MUST GO!

Dennis: "'Cos I don't give a shit."

Uttered pretty much every single time anyone says anything at all to him, to assert to fact that while everyone in the house treats their stay in the CBB building as if it's the pinnicle of their glittering career, he don't need to be there. No, he don't, he could be on Miami Beach with his assorted hangers on. Now, we don't even have the remotest interest in rearing yaks, so last year did we decide to spend an entire month of our lives on a SODDING YAK FARM IN TIBET? NO, WE DIDN'T! DENNIS MUST GO!

Chantelle: "I thought Dundee was in Wales."

Bless. She ain't the most astute tool in the box and she looks like Paris Hilton, but at least you can argue she hasn't got even the remotest trace of maliciousness in her DNA. We want her to win, which is fairly surprising as we haven't got any money on her. The odds are way too short now - we'd stupidly gone for the long shots of Traci (40/1 on Betfair), Faria (80/1), 'Other' (160/1), and Zombie Elvis Presley (1000000/1). But that's our fault for being crap at betting. CHANTELLE MUST STAY!

Monday, 23 January 2006

Drama Update!

24: Day Five
Fox, Mondays 9pm
(Or the internet, Tuesday morning).

BrokenTV's Spoiler-Free Review of 24: Day Five.

1) Having the same Fox News newsreader as Arrested Development just makes us think of him wearing 70's retro garb and a daft smirk.

2) The Nixonish President Idiot is back! And he has brought his wife!

3) Chloe is back. This is a major plus point. Chloe's ace.

4) Despite initial reservations, it's still very good. Not 'Lost' good, but still very good. Rest assured there's a lot of stuff here we're dying to mention about what's happened, but don't want to ruin the suspense for you.

5) Oh, we will say this - downloaded the special Day Five Preview mini-ep? Well, you can pretty much ignore it.

"Hi! I'm Mary Lynn Rajskub. Not only am I in 24, but
I was in The Larry Sanders Show and Mr Show, and as
such, I'm one of the best people ever.
I'm going to act all moody now.
Blimey, I'm ace."

Prison Break
five, Mondays 10pm

As you'll probably know, this is the one with a premise that's dumber than a big box of frogs watching Fox News. But is it any good?

Commendably, it cuts straight to the chase, automatically assuming everyone tuning in already knows about the whole architect/tattoo/death-row-brother thing. This leaves lots of time for First Episode Thrills And Spills, we reckon. Oh, they're just using the first episode for lots of quite dull scene-setting dialogue, the quite predictible fight-with-top-dog's-goons-stopped-by-guards-in-watchtower aside. And Main Character doesn't even know whether Brother Character has even been framed or not until he's already robbed the bank, been to the tattoo parlour, and got himself banged up, the silly arse. All we're saying is: the quiet one out of Fargo had better do something excellent by the end of episode two, or we're giving up on Prison Break.

"Look closer at my tattoos to see the map. Here's a pointless
CGI special effect to help you." We'd sooner have the "I'm
'aving 'oops" bit of Life On Mars on an endless loop for an

Now, if you'll excuse us, we've got to jump on a flight to JFK so we can catch tonight's 24 without illegally downloading it.

BrokenTV's Drama Premiership, 23rd Jan 06.

1) Lost (ABC) - 62 pts
2) 24 (Fox) - 48 pts
3) Life On Mars (BBC One) - 46 pts
4) House (five) - 44 pts
5) Prisoner Cell Block H (if it was still on) - 41 pts
6) Prison Break (five) - 29 pts

Quick probably too late by the time you see this heads Up! The UK debut of Chapelle's Show in on Tuesday 24th Jan at 10.10pm, on FX. We'll be watching.

Friday, 13 January 2006

Hey, where have I seen that Donny Jones character in tonight's episode of My Name Is Earl before?

The first series of 24.

No need to thank us.

So. This is what it's like being part of the other 90%.

Now, BrokenTV is as cynical as the next television blog. As such, we've resolutely failed to subscribe to the annual Big Brother hysteria. So, it's come as a sizable personal surprise to find ourselves somehow addicted to the current series of Celebrity Big Brother. Don't worry, listeners. We still hate The Friday Night Project and Bo Selecta, and fully expect to revert to our natural state of RealiTV* indifference once the next series of Regular Big Brother grips the nation. (*Google hits for the term RealiTV: 796. We're amazed more people haven't thought up that term.)

Why the sudden volte-face? Well:

The line-up seems to be monumentally more interesting than previous Celeb BB's. No Mark Owens or John McCrirricks here (we don't care how his surname is actually spelled). While we may not neccessarily have heard of all this year's participants (Traci Who?), or even like the ones we had heard of (although we did see Michael Barrymore perform live, supporting Little And Large on Blackpool Central Pier, when we were eight years old. He was doing his 'sending people out of the theatre for dissent' schtick at the time, and we were easily impressed), but you can't deny that this year's bunch are, mainly, interesting. Well, you probably won't, but at least we now have something to talk to girls about other than hoping they like football or Nintendo DS games. Er, although we still feel oddly compelled to follow up the words "so, did you see Big Brother last night?" with "We're not gay, by the way". Yes, we clearly have 'issues'.

Also, if Traci wins: someone else at Betfair gives us £80. If Faria wins (unlikely at the moment, but we can't see the others putting her up for eviction any time soon, and who knows what could happen from there), we get a lovely £160. And if you know BrokenTV, you'll know getting to talk to girls and the promise of free money are the two main things most likely to get us interested in anything.

We're not even going to make any lazy "that Chantelle seems a bit thick" comments. She seems perfectly nice, even if she didn't know what a gynecologist was. Plus, she's a trillion percent less annoying than her looky-likey Paris Twatting Hilton is, so we'd gladly have her round for tea any time.

Mind you, we can't imagine wanting to see her
on our telly ever again once CBB06 has
finished. We expect to suffer disappointment there.

What have we learnt since then? That despite how much any one of a random selection of celebrities may annoy us, everyone has at least some good in them. After all, even Jodie had her "Michael has a massive problem with vegetarians. Well, I've got a problem with dead bodies in swimming pools, but still" which was entertainingly blunt and great, and Pete redeemed himself after all that bitchiness with responding to the housemates' reduced food budget with "hey, we could just eat Dennis. Eh, Dennis?". Oh, and even Margaret Thatcher helped invent Butterscotch flavour Angel Delight. Not that she's involved in CBB, but it helps illustrate our point.

Mark you, George Galloway 'being' a cat is the most disturbing thing we've ever seen on television, ever. Personally, we want to see Rula voted out next, just to piss him off. And we're still fucked if we're watching the follow-on show hosted by Russell "Britain's Biggest Cunt" Brand, though.

Ah, there's that healthy sense of disdain - how we've missed it.

Saturday, 7 January 2006

The Worst Programme Of 2005

See, we hadn't forgot about this. You've seen our choices of the tenth to second worst TV shows of the year, and now we're about to reveal the worst. Well, what is it? The nominations are:

The Girl in the Café (BBC One)

A good cast and the all-too-rare prospect of seeing a BBC Wales/HBO co-production made this sound like it's be worth an hour of anyone's Sunday night. How wrong we all were, eh? Just displaying a page from Ceefax with a large flashing MODE 7 double-sized "Global poverty is bad" to a soundtrack of Coldplay's Mopiest Hits for ninety minutes would have been a much more cost effective way of meeting the same ends. Can't we arrange for a Life On Mars-style time-travel car accident to send Richard Curtis back to 1987, in the hope it kickstarts his brain into being any bloody good again?

"Dear the BBC, I thought global poverty was good
until I saw your programme The Girl In The Cafe.
Now I know it is bad. Well done, Richard Curtis!"

18 Stone of Idiot (Channel Four)

We sat through all of Celebrity Big Brother the other night, just in case the rumours of Johnny Vegas taking part were true. This is because Johnny Vegas is ace. Not that you'd have noticed by watching this sprawling mess of sub-sub-sub-TFI pish. A classic case of having too much money to throw at a project, we'd say. We'd much rather they transmitted the hour or so Johnny Vegas spent on Price-Drop TV in full.

Spoons (Channel Four)

Cunts, more like (See what I did there? I swore. I am, like, so cutting-edge).

Nighty Night (BBC Three)

The first series was uncomfortable but oddly watchable. This second series was just tedious. Still here's hoping it turns out to be one of the final nails in the coffin marked "Comedy That's A Bit 'Dark'". ("How about having someone still alive trapped in this coffin you mention?" - A Passing BBC Three Commissioning Editor.)

So bad it literally makes Angus Deayton look like Justin Lee Collins.

Blessed (BBC One)

If everyone reading this rushes out and buys a second copy of every Father Ted DVD up for grabs in HMV right now, there's a chance Ardal O'Hanlan won't need the money from a second series of Blessed. Hang on a minute, 'second series of Blessed'? That's crazy talk!

According to Bex (BBC One)

Gah. We like Jessica Stevenson (even if we did have to imdb her to check the spelling on her surname), so this turning out to be rubbish was a real let-down. We even gave it until the fourth episode to start getting good, which we used to do with every new sitcom regardless of quality, before the good/shite ratio became too heavily weighed toward the latter and made us reconsider our policy. Post-Bread Carla Lane-penned shows not included in that, obviously.

Broken News (BBC Two)

I think we've already done a comment about the writers accidentally losing all their well-crafted scipts for this due to a hard-drive mishap, and ended up printing out the first British stab at The Onion they could Google before the cast turned up for recording (rehearsals? Aye, as if). Still, we could just pretend to cut to another blog, and have it written out again, in a different font with slightly different wording, perhaps pretending to be written by an American. That would be clever and dangerously satirical, wouldn't it? Oh.

World Shut Your Mouth (BBC One. Yes, really. I'm as surprised as you are.)

The BBC finally realising that Dom Joly is a one-joke pony, there. Ha ha! A joke about Germans, beaches and towels! In 2005!


But ignore all the above, here's our choice of Worst Television Show Of The Year. Scrub that, Worst Thing In The History Of Television Ever. (Sound of imaginary envelope opening.) It's:

Balls of Steel (Channel Four)

This is what Channel Four think comedy is. This, and Spoons.

A man in a devil costume smearing fake dogshit on the button of a pelican crossing. A woman interviewing minor celebrities at events, with a bit of her microphone's logo-box displaying a rude message, and an arrow pointing at their stupid unknowing celebrity faces. Alex Zane hosting pretend gameshows where contestants end up looking a bit undignified (except they don't, even). A woman trying to ruin relationships, and that's it - that's all she does, actually trying to fuck up people's lives. A man in a cowboy hat (called 'Neg', because he's a complete cuntwipe) literally jumping on Members Ov Da Public, because Da Public are all faceless scum who work in factories and have never even bought a copy of Sleaze Nation or paid upwards of £50 for a haircut, and therefore deserve everything they get.

Cut back to Mark Dolan in the studio, looking pleased with himself. Even the joys of Randy Campbell - the sole section of the show to display more than a single weak idea dragged out over several weeks and where, crucially, the only person to get hurt or look foolish is Randy Campbell - can't stop this taking the award for Genuinely The Worst Thing On Television Ever.

Well done, Channel Four!

BrokenTV's Predictions For 2006

1. Jimmy Carr will make a 'joke' connecting the fact that there is a small swimming pool in the Celebrity Big Brother house, and Michael Barrymore.

Er, that's it for now.

Monday, 2 January 2006

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Who Killed The British Sitcom tried to look at the reasons why there aren't many sitcoms on nowadays. Clearly, this is pretty much because over the last ten or so years, far too many of them have failed. But why? The programme came up with a few suggestions, naming a 'suspect' for each. Such as:

Ben Elton, for (co-)creating a sitcom that was very popular with young people on BBC2. Ted Danson, for being in a sitcom that very very popular by minority channel standards, on a fledgling Channel Four. Caroline Aherne, for making a popular crossover hit that didn't have a studio audience*. John Major, for not stopping Luxembourg-based ASTRA putting out multi-channel television. And so on. Meh.

(*This is especailly bollocks, as despite the traditional studio-audience US sitcom being as popular as ever (Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, et al), most of the better recent US (network) sitcoms have ditched the audience - Malcolm In The Middle, Arrested Development, My Name Is Earl, Everybody Hates Chris, despite it previously only being the domain of cable shows such as Larry Sanders. In case anyone might try and suggest this is due to stateside comedy producers wanting to replicate the likes of The Royale Family, we're saying it's more down to makers of live action sitcom noticing how well shows like The Simpsons can cram more jokes into their 22 minute running time by ditching the need to wait for the audience to finish laughing.)

Here's a list we've just thought up of actual reasons why there have been so few* popular mainstream sitcoms in the last decade.

(*One. And even that's just My Family.)

Trevor's World Of Sport. Audience not pictured.

1) Bad writing.

Key example: So What Now?. Letting clearly past-their-best writers such as Carla Lane churn out stuff like Screaming, expecting it to pick up viewing figures the sunny side of ten million on the back of one name in the credits alone, just wasn't on. The same goes for getting anyone to knock some words together for a new 'star-led' sitcom. The well-worn statement of all sitcoms needing more than one series to 'take' doesn't work if everyone can see it's a rushed, needless rehash of Some Mothers Do Have 'Em, bunged out because you've accidentally given Lee Evans a contact without bothered to work out what you want him to do. After all, anyone else remember Same World, Different Planet with any fondness? Or at all?

2) Hype.

Key example: Chalk. "Watch Chalk, everyone! It's the best things since Fawlty Towers!" crowed the BBC back in 1997. 10.05pm, Thursday 20th February 1997, and millions of people think to themselves, "Blimey, that was awful. I feel cheated. Hope the BBC haven't been so confident of it being a hit they've already commissioned a second series, because I'm not watching it again." Oops. Even 'The Office' didn't get hyped to bits until the second series was due. (Note: For all the hype, The Office didn't even make the BBC's list of top 20 sitcoms. Because it isn't THAT GOOD.) This often happens when there's a show coming up that is by the writer of another, already popular, show. "Roger, Roger! It's by John Sullivan! The pilot has Neil Morrissey in it! YOU MUST WATCH IT." Ew, mum, this sitcom's got Keith Allen in it.

3) Bad acting.

Key example: Baddiel's Syndrome. How many jokes in Open All Hours, Only Fools And Horses or even Hancock wouldn't come up to standard if they were merely writting down? "Women are from Venus, Men are from Peckham!!!!!1". Not that many, granted, but the weaker lines in each still work well, because they're played so well. Compare Leonard Rossiter stating how "I won't [have a nice day at the office]", with how appallingly the line would be delivered by Ardal O'Hanlan in Blessed. One is endearing, one is annoying. In our key example, you couldn't help but feel if the script was delivered by a cast who could act to save their sodding lives (and, say, bring in an American to play the part of the American character).

The Savages. Laughs not pictured.

4) One dimensional characters.

Key example: According To Bex. There's a man in the main character's workplace who makes anally rententive complaints in a nerdy voice. And that's it. There is a woman in the main character's workplace who makes bitchy comments about other people, and does nothing else. In especially bad examples of the sitcom, the main character is an everyman (or everywoman), while everyone else in the cast has one, singular, annoying characteristic. Main Character gets annoyed, target audience supposedly coo "I know just how Main Character feels!" in unison, and hey presto! A ten year stint on UK Gold beckons. Except: no. This sort of half-arsed characterisation is a world away from multi-layers creations like Anthony Aloysius St John Hancock, George Costanze, Hank Kingsley, or latterly, Mark and Jeremy from Peep Show. (Note: This is also the real reason Trevor's World of Sport failed spectacularly, no matter how much Andy Hamilton tries to blame the BBC.) But it seems most comedy writers are too busy trying to think up a plotline based around predictive text messaging to bother with all that.

5) The main actors in successful sitcoms buggering off to be more famous elsewhere before a show can clock up a decent number of series', making it unsuitable for daily repeats on digital TV in the future.

Key examples: The High Life, Spaced. Doesn't happen often, but this does occur. Possibly due to a dearth of acting talent compared to the 1970s, or possibly due to back in the 'golden age' of comedy the likes of John Le Mesurier could go away, clock up a dozen film appearances, narrate Bod, and still be back in plenty of time to do a new series of Dad's Army, and now people have to bugger off to LA to get in the two-minute appearance in the new teen gross-out comedy film. Nowadays, Ardal O'Hanlan can go from the majestic Father Ted, to My Hero (whatever happened to that 'weak sitcoms don't get enough series to try and become popular' argument there?), to Blessed (the next step would presumably be a remake of So Haunt Me), because all the 'good' comedy actors are trying to get on film. Or, they're doing a drama for ITV.

Rhona. Second series not pictured.

Anyway, that's all we've got time for. We're now off to try and script a Seinfeld-knock off for Alan Carr, Zane Lowe and Gina Yashere. It can't fail!


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